Islam Edit Bureau
Schools and Students Become Spoils of War
and Women Driving
US Elections Should Look Like In a Real Democracy
Card: A Ray of Hope for Expats
By New Age Islam Edit Bureau
Schools and Students Become Spoils Of War
27 Apr 2016
have passed since Boko Haram abducted 276 schoolgirls in Chibok, Nigeria, and
219 of the girls remain missing. The anniversary, and that of the kidnapping of
another 300 schoolchildren from another town, marks a grim roll call for
education in the country's northeast: more than 910 schools destroyed, 1,500
forced to close, at least 611 teachers deliberately killed, 19,000 forced to
flee. Close to a million school-age children have fled the violence and now
have little or no access to schooling.
children like 14-year-old Falimotu, who was in class in a school in northeast
Nigeria when Boko Haram fighters, their faces wrapped in black scarves, entered
her school and started shooting.
was killed. A boy from the next class was shot in the leg as he ran and later
died, and the fighters said they would return if the children didn't stop going
stayed home for three months before her family fled. Nigerian soldiers moved
into the school, causing more students to drop out.
later, Boko Haram attacked, drove the soldiers away, looted ammunition stored
there, and burned the school to ashes.
Haram's increasingly brutal attacks aren't an aberration - Nigeria is ground
zero for a practice that more and more characterises war: the intentional
targeting of schools, teachers and students.
At least 30
countries have had a pattern of such attacks in the past decade, according to
the Global Coalition to Protect Education from Attack.
are not unique to Nigeria and addressing the problem extends beyond that
includes places well-known for attacks on schools, such as Afghanistan,
Pakistan and Syria, as well as many others, such as southern Thailand, South
Sudan, Ukraine and Yemen.
12-year-old boy from Syria, described how government forces shelled his school
with a tank.
He had left
science class to go to the toilet when "[t]wo shells hit the fourth floor.
I was on the first floor. People started running away." Pro-government
armed groups known as shabiha "came into the school and shot the windows,
broke the computers. After that, I only went back to take my exams."
Haram's name is loosely translated as "Western education is
forbidden". The group literally sees Western-style schools as the enemy.
countries, schools are attacked because they are symbols of governments, they
educate girls, they are vulnerable soft targets or, too often, because opposing
forces are present.
and armed groups have used schools as barracks, bases, sniper posts, weapons
depots and for other military purposes in at least 26 countries with conflict
in the past decade.
many instances troops use schools for their own convenience, some local community
members may see them - and the troops may see themselves - as protectors.
soldiers into schools is no solution. We spoke with people in northeast Nigeria
who had invited soldiers in for this very reason, only to find that Boko Haram
attacked the schools precisely because the troops were there.
At the same
time, some attacks might have been prevented by other methods. Many schools and
dormitories had no perimeter fences and security gates, even as attacks were escalating.
residents and school staff stated that when they reported Boko Haram threats to
security forces, the forces ignored them - or the government provided untrained
or inept civilian security guards.
2012 Boko Haram fighters raided an unfenced government-run boarding school in a
remote part of Nigeria's northeast.
one was killed, a teacher saw the return of only a small fraction of students.
"I don't blame them," he said. "The school still has no fence or
quarters for teachers four years later."
use of schools is pervasive, deeply harmful, and completely preventable. In the
worst cases, students and teachers have been killed when opposing forces
attacked the occupying troops.
instances, troops displace students entirely, forcing children to travel long
distances to another school or to drop out. Yet, until recently, very few
countries had made schools off limits to their forces. This is beginning to
countries from around the world came together to join the international Safe
Schools Declaration, pledging to protect education during war, including by
avoiding the use of schools for military purposes (PDF).
To date, 52
countries, including Nigeria, have signed on. These include countries such as the
Central African Republic, Sierra Leone, and South Sudan - countries who have
seen the long-lasting effects of wars on their schools - as well as others from
all regions of the globe.
Nigerian government, with international support, has recently taken some
promising steps, including merging various presidential initiatives aimed at
delivering services to victims of Boko Haram's violence, hiring 500,000
university graduates to improve the quality of teaching, and providing cash
transfers to extremely poor parents with the condition of enrolling their
children in schools.
progress could be undermined, though, unless, the government starts protecting
schools better and keeping the military out.
international assistance for education should be accompanied by pressure on the
Nigerian military to vacate schools and investigate and prosecute violations by
Boko Haram, government security forces, and pro-government militias.
attacks are not unique to Nigeria and addressing the problem extends beyond
that country's borders.
truly concerned about the still-missing schoolchildren from Chibok and other
towns in the northeast should join the international Safe Schools Declaration
and commit themselves to make schools safer for children everywhere.
As in the
words of the boy who had been abducted at the age of 12 from his school in
Somalia by al-Shabab: "Lack of education is a lack of light. It's
And Women Driving
driving is an old subject but many citizens across the country still call for
this genuine right, which is expected to bring about a revolution in women empowerment,
facilitating their movement and increasing their involvement in social and
understand that readers would be a bit disappointed reading about this subject
but as a columnist I have to write about it again and again with the hope of
convincing the decision-makers to allow Saudi women to drive their vehicles
like other women around the world.
seen some Shoura members making continuous efforts to raise the issue and press
for a resolution to lift the ban on women driving in the country.
Al-Munie, Dr. Lateefa Al-Shoalan and Dr. Muna Al-Mushait have been campaigning
for women to drive for the last three years, raising their voice in the
corridors of the Saudi Parliament despite the opposition from some Shoura members.
they called for changing Article 36 of the Traffic Law that specifies the
conditions for obtaining driving license in the Kingdom by adding a new
paragraph. The text of the new paragraph is “Driving license is the right of
both men and women when they fulfill the necessary conditions.”
female Shoura members have taken this vital step after conducting necessary
studies and taking into consideration the social, economic, cultural and
security benefits of women driving. It also goes in line with the country’s
Basic Law of Governance.
taken up the issue while shouldering their responsibility toward the nation and
society and pushing the Shoura Council to instruct the security committee to
study the proposal and present it for voting in the 150-member body as the
proposal is ready and complete.
proposal goes hand in hand with the government’s efforts to transform the
Kingdom, focusing on human and material resource development, visualizing full
and effective participation of women.
driving are no more a luxury or an extravagance. Most Saudi women consider the
right to drive as a necessity as it would save them from recruiting foreign
drivers and its expenditures.
driving have become more important than any time before. Actually it is a
national and popular demand and the government should take the initiative to
realize this objective as quickly as possible without blaming the Shariah or
existing regulations for the delay.
like take this opportunity to call upon the Shoura Council to give the issue
greater priority. It has taken more time than necessary to sanction women to
drive. I don’t see any justification for many Shoura members to oppose the idea
without giving any genuine reason.
I hope the
honourable Shoura members would rise up to the occasion by supporting the
proposal to allow women to drive and this would be remembered as a great
service to the nation.
like to mention here that women driving would not be imposed on everybody. Many
people oppose the idea because they are ready to drive their women to their
destinations. Women who reject the move can still resort the service of foreign
drivers for their movement.
Elections Should Look Like In A Real Democracy
27 Apr 2016
States presidential primaries are unfolding an impossibly grim choice for
citizens voting in the November general elections. On one hand is Donald Trump,
an egomaniac racist with an insatiable appetite for power, a fifth-grade
vocabulary, and little or no experience in political or intellectual life.
other hand is Hillary Clinton, arguably a war criminal, destroyer of nations,
from Honduras to Iraq to Libya, champion of environmental devastation, and
holder of the title "America's most corrupt politician in 2015".
understanding of Clinton, I find myself feeling that as a Palestinian American
Muslim woman, I'd rather find myself in a Donald Trump internment camp rather
than live in a world led by Clinton's chauvinistic, neoliberal, faux-feminist
Sanders has already made it clear that he would not run as an Independent
because, he said: "I do not want to be responsible for electing some
right-wing Republican to be president of the United States."
only seems like an ego-driven betrayal to the millions of his supporters, but
it is based on an inconclusive prediction. It is entirely conceivable that
Sanders, with the right strategy, could also split Trump's supporter base and
walk away with the presidency as a third party candidate.
Trump and Bernie hold opposing social, philosophical, economic and political
views, their appeal to voters is based on the same principle.
entirely conceivable that Sanders ... could also split Trump's supporter base and
walk away with the presidency as a third party candidate.
candidates are viewed as political mavericks willing to challenge the status
quo. Their support base is predominantly people who feel disenfranchised from a
popular perceptions, Trump's supporters are not particularly ideological.
his base spans to the right in the political landscape, at least 20 percent of
his supporters describe themselves as "liberal" or
"moderate", with 65 percent ticking "conservative" and only
13 percent "very conservative".
half of his supporters are 45-65 years in age, 34 percent are over 65 years,
and slightly more than half are women. The majority have a high school
education or less, with only 19 percent earning a college post-graduate degree.
Over a third earns less than $50,000 a year.
words, Trump's support comes from under-educated, economically disadvantaged,
and middle-aged to older Americans ostensibly seeking lives of greater promise
this is precisely the demographic that would be most favourably served by
Bernie Sanders' proposed economic and social policies.
only articulated plans include schemes to rid the nation of brown people, which
will ultimately offer his supports nothing in the way of better lives. It is
entirely reasonable to believe that making this truth apparent to voters could
turn Trump fans into Bernie voters.
scenario may be an uphill and risky battle, but real leaders should not shirk
from a challenge when the public welfare is at stake.
this point, it seems that Dr Jill Stein has reached out to Sanders to join
forces, possibly offering the support Green Party voters.
Closer To Truer Democracy
It is no
secret that Republican Party leaders are desperate to derail Donald Trump's
nomination and there have been suggestions to contest his nomination at in July
at the Republican National Convention.
doing so could potentially weaken the Republican party, it remains a
possibility that party leaders might take that risk rather than put Trump forth
as their candidate.
Sanders, Trump did not rule out an independent run if he does not secure the
nomination. If that happens, a new reality would be created that could assuage
Bernie's reticence to also run independently, thus creating a four-way
presidential race, moving the US closer to what elections in a real democracy
are supposed to look like.
be clear by now that Americans are acutely aware that our collective fate is
being steered by a ruling elite whose principle pursuit is one of self-interest
and consolidation of power as they simultaneously pay lip service to the very
real human struggles in this country.
populace inches closer to the condition of irredeemable discontent - whether it
is with rigged elections, sustained economic hardship or unrelenting social and
environmental injustice - it would behove the political establishment to
comprehend that the status quo is untenable.
this is the most important point I can make: Real change can only ever come
from popular mass movements. The leaders we have allowed in office in my
lifetime have largely acted to curtail, discredit, and/or disband popular
opposition, from the Black Panthers to the Occupy Wall Street movements.
we need in high office is not a saviour hero.
need a leader who will not actively block our efforts to organise as we work to
expand labour unions, empower students, protect consumers, create activists,
educate our young so that we might produce critical thinking, compassionate,
and imaginative generations to steer us away from the current individualistic,
rapacious capitalism setting our planet aflame.
Emad is an
Egyptian engineer. Ahmed is a Syrian accountant. Both are very close friends
and their families are like one big family. Both the friends have been living
in Saudi Arabia for the past 35 years. Their children grew up together. All
their childhood memories were formed in Saudi Arabia and all their friends are
in this country not in their respective home countries.
Emad and Ahmed know the Eastern Province like the back of their hands. They
could easily become tourist guides who are aware about the area like natives.
These two guys can easily get confused in the streets of Cairo or Damascus. In
other words, Saudi Arabia is their home away from home. Unfortunately, the
sword of Damocles is always hanging on the fate of these men. What would they
do at the termination of their work contracts?
This is the
dilemma of not only Emad and Ahmed but it a problem most, if not all,
expatriates are facing in the Kingdom despite having lived here for decades.
Expatriates had been living and working in Saudi Arabia for many decades. Their
numbers had jumped to unprecedented level after the discovery of oil in 1938
and until this day it continues to swell.
of expatriates in the past was small and they were confined to a few areas in
the Kingdom. Some were in the western parts of the Kingdom close to the holy
places and some were in the eastern parts close to the oil fields. In other
words, expatriates have greatly contributed to the development of Saudi Arabia.
1970s Saudi Arabia witnessed world’s biggest economic boom and the country was
on track to see the biggest transformation in the world in a short period. At
that time, Saudi Arabia needed millions of skilled workers from around the
world and these expatriates became part of the Saudi society and as time passed
Saudi Arabia became their home. Some of the expatriates had been in the Kingdom
for more than 30 years. They worked and lived in the Kingdom but most important
thing is that their children were born in Saudi Arabia and later on most of
them attended private schools with a few attending public schools.
children, who were born and raised in Saudi Arabia, don’t know anything about
any other country. Many of these families with children would travel less and
often to their home countries because of travel expenses or simply the head of
the family was needed by his or her employer. At the end of the day not only
the children, but even their parents made friends in the Kingdom.
many of the young expatriates go to their native countries but they barely know
their relatives and have no friends. They are all in Saudi Arabia. In the past
few years we have seen the lives of many families shattered due to the
termination of work permits or contracts of the guardians of expatriate
families and they were forced to leave the Kingdom.
had been under discussion since a long time but it remained without any
solution. We should understand that they are part of this country and many of
them actively took part in the development of Saudi Arabia.
Just a few
days ago, a ray of hope emerged for these expatriates, who have immense love
and loyalty for Saudi Arabia. Yes, I am referring to the recently announced
Saudi Vision 2030. Part of the vision is the introduction of a system in the
form of a green card for long-serving expatriates. The expatriate community is
very excited about it. And I thing the sooner is the better for the
introduction of such a system because it will be beneficial for both the
Kingdom and the expatriates.
well-off expatriates will then be able to own a home in Saudi Arabia instead of
living on rented properties and instead of sending all their money back home,
they will also invest in the Kingdom.
expatriates are willing to invest in Saudi Arabia’s stock exchange and in other
areas. Expatriates have faith in the Saudi economy, the stability and security
of Saudi Arabia, which is very comforting to any investor.
important aspect of expatriates in the Kingdom is that many of them also have
unique skills and huge experiences in medicine, engineering and other
technologies that the Kingdom can utilize rather than seeing them go to their
native countries or other parts of the world. The Saudi Vision 2030 will have a
great impact not only on the Saudi economy but it will improve the living
standards of the expatriates living in the Kingdom.