Has anything changed in Iran following massive protests against the reelection of Ahmadinajad?

Neda’s death has become a symbol for those fighting for change in Iran. The ongoing discontent with the reelection of Ahmadinajad is somewhat a discontent with the Iranian regime dominated by the clergy, top of whom is Ayatollah Khamenei , the spiritual leader.

The ongoing protests in Iran, in one way or another, is an indication of the split in the Iranian leadership, if not, a split in national unity. This can lead to deep political divisions which can erupt into a regime change.

Currently, Iran has become a weakened state with a regime under pressure at home from the strong opposition and abroad because of its pursuit of nuclear programme. Maybe, this can be a golden opportunity for the USA to force the hardline conservatives out of power and support a moderate Iranian leadership that can be a reliable, economically and militarily.

From what’s going on in Iran, from protests to statements by influential opposition figures, it seems the regime in Iran isn’t as solid as it appeared to be before the presidential elections. The biggest change is that the Iranians, from politicians to ordinary people, have become more vocal and confrontational. This is the biggest test for the current regime. It remains if it will survive protests at home and international sanctions.

The Iranian regime is using its nuclear programme as a weapon to get national unity and to weaken its opponents. It remains to see if the Iranians will accept having a strong nuclear weapon in exchange of a shaky economy. In other words, what will they prefer a strong army or weak enterprises plunging their living standard into further deep pits.

Hamas new morality code

Hamas has launched it’s “virtue campaign” in Gaza .
Lingerie can’t be displayed in shop windows, female lawyers will have to wear headscarves in court and teenagers must stop playing “suggestive” music.
Men and women are also being told to celebrate separately at wedding parties.

At the moment the new moves are voluntary but deputy minister Abu Jarbou predicted Islamic law would eventually be imposed…..despite previous promises not to force it on the strip’s 1.5 million people.
Here’s the story of a Palestinian journalist who officials tried to arrest for being dressed immodestly and laughing in public.

It seems now people in Gaza are besieged from all fronts. There is the Israeli blockade coupled with Egypt closing borders with Gaza. Now they are besieged by morality code. Concerning this, it is a foreshadow what an independent Palestinian state will be, a state in continuous division as there are secular Palestinians ( Muslim and Christians), mainly those living in the West Bank who won’t favour such hard Islamic measures.

One should really fear sorry for the Gazans who are surrounded by all sorts of woes from Israeli blockade to Hamas stringent measures. One should really wonder if the Gazans are now really living in a collective prison subjected to all sorts of discipline to keep things apparently in order when the majority are trying to escape for a normal life.

The most ludicrous aspect is threatening a woman with arrest for laughing “heartily” in public. It seems even feeling openly happy is a crime. Hamas wants people under its authority to feel and look grim not to lose the spirit of resistance. Maybe next time there will be punishment for eye contact between men and women as now there are plans not to allow them to mix in public places and in parties.

Is Islamic extremism Africa’s newest fear?

It seems Somalia is becoming the replica of the once Taliban ruled Afghanistan. The exception is that it is a land where pirates and jihadists co-exist under the nose of the international community which appears hesitant about direct intervention to make Somalia a normal state with a functional central government.

Islamic extremism in Africa can lead just to civil wars as the majority of African countries are partially Muslim. Which means there will be a clash between Muslims and people of other faiths, mainly Christians.

In the case of Nigeria, the rise of extremist Islam can be caused by the tension between Muslims and Christians, each making almost half of Nigeria’s population. However furthering democracy in African impoverished countries and enhancing development is the best way to tackle extremism of whatever sort.

Should you get paid for your blood, sperm or eggs?

Actually, it is somewhat belittling to make one’s body a commercial machine to get money from the donation of blood, sperm and eggs.

It can be accepted to give free amount of one’s blood to help save lives. The ethic problem rises when there is donation of sperm and eggs resulting in the procreation of children one shall never meet. It’s a form of having oneself dispersed in different families without belonging to them.

It can be queer if one becomes the biological parent of tens, if not hundreds of children, without having the chance to meet any of them and if one meets them, it is a kind of embarrassment. One has the right to know them but not to keep any of them as they are the property of those who paid for them.

Does a criminal have to ask for the death penalty?

The attacks in Mumbai in November last year killed almost 170 people, and shattered the lives of countless other loved ones. Mohammad Ajmal Amir Qasab, a surviving attacker has said he’s ready to be hanged and wants no mercy from the court.

So if Qasab is claiming some responsibility and is volunteering to die for his crimes — should the state kill him? If a killer asks to die then should authorities oblige?

There are some who believe that one should live and let live. Others think that they should kill and be killed.

A killer shouldn’t commit a crime and then sets the rules by which they should be punished. It’s up to the judiciary system to decide what form of punishment should be inflicted on them.

In the case of Mohammad Ajmal Amir Qasab , the presumed terrorist, he wants to be killed as a reward for his crime as his death will, for him, prolong his life among his sympathisers and those who sent him to carry out the deadly attacks. He essentially should get the punishment that fit his crime, not according to his wish but according to the decision of the judiciary system that should respect the victims and their loved-ones who are currently putting up with their losses.

Does the character of a politician matter as long as he gets the job done?

The character of a politician is important in accordance with the established views of the society in which they hold responsibility.
However, any politician should have a degree of respectability and not a appear as a fun figure, worthy of gossip like a character in a comdey. Although politicians presumably have a private life, it becomes of importance to the public as his/her private life becomes a public property.

Apparently, the public can be forgiving towards a male politician with numerous liaisons and affairs. But there is still to debate if a female politician with a lewd behaviour can have a sympathetic public. Or how will the public react if two key politicians from different countries are known to be engaging in an intimate relationship?

In general, political figures should minimise the risk of being exposed as lusty characters and not to establish the norm that to be a successful politician one should be more sensually than politically adept.

Is it time to re-evaluate what ‘old’ means?

You are as old as you feel, as it goes.
As long as people can keep in good health, physically and mentally, they can live as long as possible. With birth control, there is no danger of getting an overpopulated world. Thanks to technology, there are many jobs that can be done by the elderly, not necessitating great physical effort.

The great step now awaiting scientific researches is not just to help people be past 100 but to keep looking as young as if they were still in their forties. This can help the world population keep young for ever.

Actually, people belong to age categories. Statistically, age means a number of years. There are people who age before their time. They look and are rundown. There are those who keep vibrant although they are more than 60.

There should be no fear of getting old. One of my favourite old people is the late BBC correspondent Alistair Cook , who On March 2, 2004, at the age of 95, following advice from his doctors, Cooke announced his retirement from Letter from America. In his nineties, he kept lucid and with a strong voice.
Such great people should be set as a good example for those who are afraid of getting old. Even if the body becomes less strong than it used to be, there is still the chance to keep a strong mind.

As long as people can keep in good health, physically and mentally, they can live as long as possible. With birth control, there is no danger of getting an overpopulated world. Thanks to technology, there are many jobs that can be done by the elderly, not necessitating great physical effort.

The great step now awaiting scientific researches is not just to help people be past 100 but to keep looking as young as if they were still in their forties. This can help the world population keep young forever.

Is the war in Afghanistan making the world safer?

The war on terror should be global. Al Qaeda or the Taliban has proven its resilience as it can change the land where it can operate systematically. It has/had Iraq as its strong hold. Now it has other vast areas mainly in Pakistan, Afghanistan and Somalia.
So the war on terror, it has to be winnable, should include all areas where terror is operating through military action, indoctrination and the reception of aid.

Even military experts acknowledge that the war in Afghanistan will take very long years. Al Qaeda and Taliban still have many sympathisers who can replace those killed or captured.

Maybe, the Taliban can be totally defeated or softened if Afghanistan becomes a prosperous country with very little corruption and also economic aid to the country is as quick as the deployment of military forces. You can’t win a war like this in areas where people have only a constant sense of revenge. They have only their lives to lose as they have no material security to live on.

Do men need protecting from themselves?

Whipped for indecency – a well-known female journalist in Sudan is facing 40 lashes for wearing trousers. She was one of 13 women arrested last week for wearing trousers, those who pleaded guilty were given 10 lashes there and then.

Shaimaa Khalil – a BBC journalist- shared her story about a similar experience in Doha. She was cautioned by a policeman for wear a sleeveless top and jeans. She found the ticking off really humiliating. He threatened to take her down to the police station if she was caught dressing in such a way again.

I remember being told by a man in Morocco to cover up in the evening (I was wearing a knee length summer dress) . That really wound me up but I responded by throwing on a pair of jeans – I was actually afraid of what might happen to me if I didn’t!

In response to Shaimaa’s experiences in Doha and Morocco, a comparison must be drawn. In Qatar as in some other countries, there are laws preventing women from wearing modern dress. In Morocco, there are no such laws. There is only social and family pressure that obliges women not to reveal too much of their skin. Actually Moroccan women are still free to wear topless T-shirts and the like, but still they may have to bear with harassment from men.

In Morocco, there are Muslim women who wear black clothes covering their whole bodies. They’re jokingly called ninjas.

In the case of Morocco, foreign women; especially, westerners are free to dress as they like. They can look half-naked but not totally naked. They can even walk in the street with their male partners holding each other’s hands and kissing. They can walk in the streets ( sometimes very crowded) with bare arms and back.

It’s true there are other Muslim countries where women face heavy restrictions concerning the way they should dress. But it’s wrong to generalise the assumption that all Muslim countries have drastic measures and women are forced to wear Muslim clothing, including scarves. It’s a matter of choice even for the locals.

Concerning the responses from men to how women dress, this depends on their personalities. In societies, where it is still a taboo for men and women to have free relations or to be seen together in public, it is still a sensitive issue, as an “indecent” dress is interpreted as an invitation to sex for pleasure or money.

Men should have control over themselves. They shouldn’t be controlled by instinct and fantasy. Women should dress for self-respect, not by wearing a burqa and also by not wearing clothes that reveal too much when they are sure they can be seen just as a sex object and not as persons whose personality should be respected.

Obama’s trip to Ghana

President Obama makes his sub-Saharan Africa debut with a visit to Ghana this week and WHYS is doing a TV special to discuss it.

Ros asks what Obama and America should do for Africa. Actually, the question should be what African leaders and ordinary Africans should do for their continent. Obama’s visit to Ghana is going to be less than one day long but Africa’s development still needs years if not decades for a normal lift-off.

 

Billions of dollars in aid for Africa have been squandered without bringing the desirable positive changes due to corruption and mismanagement on the part of the African leaders nationally and locally. It seems a change in mentality can’t occur over night as Africa needs a new generation equipped with the skill to govern itself without needing to be watched over by the international community like a child being watched over by a parent.

 

African leaders must ask themselves why the USA managed to produce a black president of African origin who is both popular and powerful while many African leaders hold to power just for their own glory instead of the glory of their countries.

 

Should Obama address the African leaders and teach them how to translate words into action instead of simply having their organisation the African Union in which they meet just to shake hands and make speeches they forget about once they get back home?

 

Obama, whether we like it or not, is the incarnation of the American dream. When can Africa have its own dream to get out of its multiple nightmares?

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