New Age Islam
Mon Jun 17 2024, 07:13 AM

World Press ( 10 Oct 2020, NewAgeIslam.Com)

Comment | Comment

World Press on Child Marriage, Comedian Nabil Abdulrashid and Pompeo: New Age Islam's Selection, 10 October 2020

By New Age Islam Edit Bureau

10 October 2020

• As Humanitarian Crises Escalate, So Does Child Marriage

By Bjorn Andersson and Jean Gough

• Comedian Nabil Abdulrashid Abused Online With Racism and Islamophobia

By The Muslim Vibe

• Is Pompeo Changing Tack On Turkey?

By Seth J. Frantzman

• Covid-19 Has Unmasked the True Nature of Donald Trump and Trumpism

By Jonathan Freedland


As Humanitarian Crises Escalate, So Does Child Marriage

By Bjorn Andersson and Jean Gough

October 10, 2020


Photo: UNFPA


Mona's village was located in the far west of Nepal when the devastating 2015 earthquake struck. The temblor damaged her house but more significantly, her father did not return home from his work in India. Her family was left to fend for themselves within their remote and poor Dalit ethnic community. Then, in a further upheaval, Mona received a marriage proposal. She was just 16.

In another trauma-stricken community in South Asia, Rohingya refugee Asmot Ara was barely 14 when she gave birth to her first child. Forced to flee her village amid violence in Myanmar, Asmot travelled alone for days until she arrived at Cox's Bazar in Bangladesh. Now she lives in a makeshift settlement with her husband whom she agreed to marry soon after arriving in the camp when his family promised to take care of her.

Mona and Asmot's stories speak to an observed escalation in child marriage amid humanitarian disasters in several countries across Asia and the Pacific, including South Asia, where one in every three women aged 20-24 is married before the age of 18. Their plight shines a spotlight on restrictive social expectations and barriers that millions of girls face as they become adolescents.

Unfortunately, propelled by the perils of climate change and tensions of an increasingly globalised yet divided world, the frequency and force of disasters like these—one natural, the other man-made—will continue picking up speed. And the far-reaching tentacles of Covid-19—a global pandemic—is further exacerbating and reinforcing such practices.

Beyond their immediate havoc, the fallout from humanitarian crises is treacherous to girls' and women's rights. Besides child marriage, emergencies fuel other harmful practices such as gender-biased sex selection and gender-based violence. All of these share a common thread: the culturally sanctioned and ill-informed social and patriarchal notion that girls and women hold less value than boys and men.

The current global health and humanitarian crisis of Covid-19 is proving no different. As forecast by the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), the pandemic has disrupted efforts to end child marriage and could potentially result in an additional 13 million such unions taking place globally between 2020 and 2030 that could otherwise have been averted.

Lockdowns, school closures and economic downturns linked to Covid-19 are disproportionately affecting girls, with reduced access to sexual and reproductive health services, and rising incidence of harmful practices.

The United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) reports that the Covid-19 crisis has plunged an additional 150 million children into poverty globally, whilst a third of the world's school children remain out of school. Both poverty and access to education, coupled with harmful social norms, are key drivers of child marriage. Not surprisingly, emerging anecdotal evidence indicates child marriages are occurring more frequently. And, we can be sure that for every report of violations to girls' rights through harmful practices, far more incidents hide in the shadows, unreported.

Now,Child Marriage in Humanitarian Settings in South Asia, a new report commissioned by UNFPA and UNICEF, confirms earlier indications that humanitarian crises do in fact result in child marriage spikes. Reported cases are only the tip of the iceberg, as referral and support systems are weakened. The report's launch aligns with this year's International Day of the Girl which demonstrates global solidarity towards upholding girls' rights and amplifying their voices.

For many impoverished families with young girls, child marriage may seem the only viable solution to the socio-economic problems compounded by emergencies. But this option represents negative coping strategies. Indeed, the underlying drivers of child marriage persist and even intensify all the more in disasters.

The report finds that in times of crisis, communities already disposed to this human rights violation are particularly vulnerable to the practice. Behind the guise of keeping girls safe and preserving family honour, is one of the most entrenched and corrosive norms of all: gender discrimination, fuelled by patriarchy and the chauvinistic desire to control adolescent girls' sexuality and reproduction.

However, countries can, and should, seize opportunities to mitigate the situation and safeguard the gains made towards stamping out harmful practices made in recent years.

The report recommends that governments must strengthen laws, policies and programmes all the more and be diligent in monitoring their impact, including in the context of humanitarian response. However, as policy and legal frameworks are strengthened, attention also needs to be paid to the possibility that child marriage may go further "underground", as social and legal sanctions against the practice may prevent reporting or access to support services.

Efforts to bolster girls' and women's economic and physical security—grounded in gender equality and human rights—should be prioritised, including in disaster response. Support for girls who are married, for example, to remain in school, are critical to both their own long-term wellbeing and eventually that of their children. And, not least, comparative data on child marriage across a range of settings can help organisations and district officials understand its true scale and trend. Governments and civil society should work together to fill this dire gap.

Ultimately, our report indicates that out of crisis may come opportunity. Humanitarian settings could open doors which can be leveraged to enable action against child marriage, with girls empowered to be change agents within their own communities.

In Nepal, for example, more adolescents found their voice to resist marriage after the 2015 earthquakes, when government, UN partners and non-governmental organisations' relief efforts made education and other services more attainable in affected communities. Gender-responsive social protection measures were introduced to increase resources within households and support linkages to referral networks.

In fact, unlike her two sisters, Mona successfully refused the marriage proposal she received after the earthquake destroyed her village. "In my village, most of the girls get married young," Mona explains. "But I won't do that. I have a dream to be the first Dalit teacher of our village."

We know what works to end child marriage. For International Day of the Girl tomorrow, let's pledge to stay the course.


Bjorn Andersson is the UNFPA Asia-Pacific Regional Director and Jean Gough is the UNICEF South Asia Regional Director.


Comedian Nabil Abdulrashid Abused Online with Racism and Islamophobia

By The Muslim Vibe

7th October 2020

Comedian Nabil Abdulrashid


Comedian Nabil Abdulrashid, performing a stand-up for the fifth semi-final for Britain’s Got Talent, has received a horrendous wave of racist and Islamophobic abuse online following his most recent successful audition.

Revealing that he has received death threats and abuse after his comedy stand-up, where he in part touched on topics such as racism, police discrimination, and Islamophobia, Nabil’s experience is just another example of far-right and xenophobic rhetoric that continues to target successful minority figures in Britain.

Much of the abuse, being racist and Islamophobic, targetted Nabil simply because of what he represents: a diverse and multi-ethnic Britain that is not afraid to speak out on the systematic wrongs that need to be dealt with. Taking to Twitter, Nabil responded with:

Despite the backlash that came after, Nabil’s performance was highly praised by the judges, who sent him through into the upcoming Britain’s Got Talent final.

Alesha Dixon, the judge who gave him the Golden Buzzer, said: “I think you’re very brave to take on the subject of racism…it’s very poignant right now and we all need to learn to laugh a bit more and have a sense of humour”.

With the rise of open Islamophobia and right-wing extremism sponsoring anti-immigrant and racist ideology, many who are from ethnic-minority or religious backgrounds fear for the future in both the UK and Western Europe.

Representation and visibility have become more important than ever – and people like Nabil, who remain proudly Muslim and unabashedly themselves, continue to pave the way for those most vulnerable in society. Let us hope that he not only continues to gain traction in mainstream British media but helps open doors for other Muslims to follow as well.

Nabil hosts a podcast with TMV’s Chief Editor Salim Kassam called “I Am Not Your Bilal”, in which they discuss a wide range of topics, from systematic racism, the history of Islam in Africa, and interracial marriages and multi-ethnic identities – to listen click here!


Is Pompeo Changing Tack On Turkey?

By Seth J. Frantzman

October 5, 2020

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has paid a visit to the eastern Mediterranean, where he met Greek leaders. He was also in Cyprus on September 12. Turkey has been threatening Greece and Cyprus and causing tensions in the eastern Mediterranean. Ankara’s challenge has caused Greece, Cyprus, Egypt and Israel to work together more closely.

Pompeo’s trip appeared to illustrate a new US commitment to listening to Athens and Nicosia, rather than appeasing Ankara’s aggression. The trip raised eyebrows in Ankara where leaders have gotten used to bashing the US while also having a direct line to the White House.

Most recently, Pompeo aimed criticism at Turkey for fuelling tension in Azerbaijan and Armenia because Turkey had said it could support Azerbaijan militarily. He also expressed concern that Syrian mercenary fighters, many of them wanted for looting in Afrin and Libya and known for religious extremism, had been recruited by Ankara to fight Armenia.

For the first time, the US appears to be confronting Turkey over its fueling of conflicts across the region. In the last year Turkey has invaded Syria, bombed Iraq, threatened Greece with forcing refugees across the border, stoked tensions in Idlib, signed deals with Russia, sent arms and Syrians to Libya illegally, threatened to “liberate” Jerusalem from Israel’s control, threatened the UAE, bashed the Israel-UAE deal, hosted Hamas terrorists, encouraged war between Azerbaijan and Armenia, and continued to put journalists and opposition politicians in prison.

Pompeo has a mixed record on Turkey’s role. On the one hand, his State Department has pushed pro-Turkish envoy James Jeffrey on the region. This resulted in the US misleading Kurdish civilians in eastern Syria in 2019, to the extent that days before a Turkish invasion US officials were telling Kurdish activists such as Hevrin Khalaf that Ankara would not attack them. Days later, on October 12 she was dead, murdered by Turkish-backed extremists.

Ankara’s far-right media called her murder a successful “neutralization.”

However, the Secretary of State has also been critical of Turkey over its turning of the historic church and museum, Hagia Sophia, back into a mosque. He has also said Ankara would not be allowed to slaughter Kurds. The State Department also critiqued Turkey’s President for hosting Hamas terrorists.

The recent trips to Cyprus and Greece seem to have caused Turkey to wonder if Pompeo has finally changed tack on Turkey.

Instead of the double game where the US coddles Turkey with some diplomats but expresses concern with others, the trip purposely avoided meeting Turkish officials. Over the years Ankara’s officials have gotten used to meeting with Russia and Iran while always bashing European and western leaders. Turkey does not take the West seriously and thinks slandering the US, France, Germany, Austria, Holland and other countries is how to get progress from western officials. Turkish pro-government media for instance, regularly bashes the US while not critiquing Russia and Iran the same way.

Mevlut Cavusoglu, Turkey’s foreign minister, recently threatened US Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi. Turkey has also bashed Joe Biden for critical comments. Cavusoglu has called Europe “spoiled, racist children” and threatened to “crash and kick out to sea” critics in Greece. It is hard to find a week in the last year that Turkish officials have not attacked some western country, while at the same time demanding they work with Turkey.

Now the top US diplomat, who is also one of the key figures in the Trump administration and central to the US’s role in the world today, is more critical of Turkey. That the US State Department has slammed Ankara for hosting Hamas and also for sending Syrians to Azerbaijan, appears to show that Washington understands that Turkish aggression is harming US interests and allies.

For years the pro-Ankara lobby in Washington sold the White House on a theory that Turkey would work with the US against Iran. However, Turkey supported trade with Iran and opposed US sanctions, and wanted the Iran Deal to remain. Turkey regularly hosts Iranian delegations and greets them warmly. Turkey works with Iran and Russia in Syria to side-line the US. Ankara accuses the US of working with “terrorists” in Syria but has never used similar language against Iran. It may be that the US State Department is merely playing both sides, but Pompeo’s high level visits to Greece and Cyprus appear to show a shift in attitude.

Turkey has sunk political support into bashing Biden and supporting Trump. It has gambled since 2016 that it could interfere in US domestic politics to get the results it wanted. When the Turkish President visited the US in 2017 Turkish security even beat up US peaceful protesters in Washington, a sign that Ankara felt it controlled Washington.

To show the US who was boss Ankara harassed a US soldier at an airport in Turkey, detained a US pastor on false charges, and imprisoned a US consular employee, as well as harassing US journalists. Ankara believed the US would appease its policies and get into line. Now Ankara’s attempt to control US foreign policy may be slipping away.


Covid-19 Has Unmasked the True Nature of Donald Trump and Trumpism

By Jonathan Freedland

9 Oct 2020

Just in case you were about to feel an unfamiliar spasm of sympathy for Donald Trump following his contraction of coronavirus, this week has provided a helpful reminder not only of his morally repugnant character but also of the danger he poses to the United States and the wider world.

Firmly in the first category is his attempt to blame his infection on the grieving relatives of slain soldiers, citing Gold Star families’ tendency to “come within an inch of my face”. Speaking to Fox Business on Thursday, Trump said, “They want to hug me and they want to kiss me”, and so perhaps it was them who had made him sick. Clearly keen not to keep all that viral load to himself, Trump later told Fox News – in between coughing bouts – that he plans to host a rally in Florida on Saturday and another in Pennsylvania. He’ll doubtless repeat the gesture he premiered in his bargain-bin Mussolini performance on the White House balcony on Monday night, ripping off his mask with a flourish – as if to prove that nothing and nobody will stop him shrouding his devotees in a cloud of his contaminated breath.

More serious are his assaults on democracy, which become ever more explicit. Lashing out at his own henchmen, he channelled Elton John to warn that the slavishly loyal attorney general, William Barr, would find himself in a “sad, sad situation” if he did not indict Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton and Joe Biden for “the greatest political crime in the history of our country”, namely the federal inquiry into the 2016 Trump campaign’s links to Russia. Like strutting on a balcony, threatening to jail your predecessor along with your former and current opponents for political crimes tends to be a feature of darkly authoritarian states rather than democratic ones.

As if to confirm that Trump’s threats to democracy are not empty, that the signals he transmits are received, 13 men were arrested in Michigan on Thursday over a violent plot to kidnap the state’s governor and try her for treason. You’ll recall that in April, Trump urged his followers, angry about the state’s lockdown, to “LIBERATE MICHIGAN!”. Trump’s chief response to the revelation of this episode of domestic terrorism was not contrition, but rather a rebuke to the governor for failing to say thank you to “my justice department” for uncovering the conspiracy. That “my” is telling: it is the grammar of the authoritarian strongman.

Most Republicans continue, like Trump’s doctors, to act as enablers in all this. Especially eye-catching was a tweet from infected senator Mike Lee of Utah, arguing that democracy was less important than liberty, peace and prosperity – and that sometimes “Rank democracy can thwart” those goals. Few Republicans dare echo the House speaker, Nancy Pelosi, who rather generously described Trump’s increasingly unhinged ramblings as evidence that “he’s in an altered state”.

And yet, the admission by the Republican leader in the senate, Mitch McConnell, that he had not gone near the White House since 6 August because of the administration’s lax approach to masks and social distancing, was striking. Now, McConnell is not a man to speak without prior thought: unencumbered by scruples, he is a political calculating machine. And what that remark suggests is the calculation that Republicans need to distance themselves from a president they suspect is heading towards defeat.

They’ve seen the polls, same as everyone else. Those show Biden’s lead growing when the race should be tightening, the Democrat consistently ahead in every battleground state bar Florida, and breathing down Trump’s neck in states that should be reliably Republican, including must-win Ohio. What’s more, Biden’s lead has increased since Trump’s diagnosis a week ago. Hard-headed Republicans are beginning to suspect that the pandemic will be the president’s undoing.

If that’s right, there would be a compelling, even karmic, logic to it. For Covid-19 could almost have been designed to expose the essence, and failings, of Trumpism.

Consider that one of Trumpism’s defining traits is its contempt for truth, facts and science. It was during Trump’s first weekend in office that he had his officials lie about the size of his inaugural crowd and speak of “alternative facts”. Opponents railed against this epistemic vandalism, but “truth” always seemed an abstract, even elitist concern. And then came coronavirus, accompanied by Trump’s insistence that it would just disappear “like a miracle”, or that it could be chased away with an injection of bleach, as if to demonstrate in the starkest possible terms where a disdain for facts and for science leads: namely, to the graves of more than 200,000 Americans.

Similarly, Trumpism adapts the traditional Republican attachment to individual freedom and mutates it into a darker, Darwinian belief that the strong individual can and should do whatever they like, and to hell with the “suckers and losers” who might suffer as a result. In normal times, plenty of Trump supporters saw that as an exhilarating libertinism, one that allowed Trump to cheat on his wives and pay no taxes, all without consequences. They’d have lived like that if they could. But coronavirus doesn’t work that way. Suddenly the “suckers and losers” included Trump supporters, or their loved ones. The virus even caught up with Trump himself – along with everyone who got near him.

And, of course, Trumpism is defined by its toxic brand of masculinity, mocking Biden for wearing a mask – “Might as well carry a purse with that mask, Joe,” quipped one Fox host – forgetting that covering your face is mainly to protect others, not yourself. Trump is still bragging that he is a “perfect physical specimen”, that he’s seen off Covid, but he says it while wheezing. This virus has done to Trumpian machismo what it’s done to Trumpian disrespect for rules and science: it’s exposed it as hollow and a failure.

We don’t know what further twists await in this long, melancholy drama; we don’t know who will win next month. But if Donald Trump is ejected from office, Americans will still have to wrestle with a tough question: what does it say about the US if it took a pandemic to do it?


Jonathan Freedland is a Guardian columnist



New Age IslamIslam OnlineIslamic WebsiteAfrican Muslim NewsArab World NewsSouth Asia NewsIndian Muslim NewsWorld Muslim NewsWomen in IslamIslamic FeminismArab WomenWomen In ArabIslamophobia in AmericaMuslim Women in WestIslam Women and Feminism