Tuesday, January 26, 2010

And they wonder why we hate them?


PARIS — A French parliamentary panel recommended on Tuesday moves to curb the wearing of Muslim veils in certain public facilities and suggested that lawmakers should pass a resolution condemning the garments. But it stopped short of pressing for a total ban.

A report from the panel said that lawmakers were unable to unanimously agree to an outright ban “at this stage,” even though many favored one.

The report, however, called for legislation to ban the covering of the face in public services.

Presenting the report, members of the panel suggested that this could include hospitals, public transport, schools, post offices and even banks — areas where identification is important.

Instead of recommending a total ban of the veil, the report from the 32-member panel, which crossed party lines, said the Council of State, a body which provides the executive with legal advice and acts as a court of last resort, should examine whether legislation should be introduced.

Lionnel Luca, a lawmaker from the governing center-right party and a member of the panel, said the report was a “missed opportunity.”

“We’ll study the issue, we’ll have a resolution — that’s all great,” he said after the release of the 280-page document. “But what we really need is a clear text that outlaws the burqa.”

“We need to go further and we need the political will. At the moment I don’t see that,” he said.

The opposition Socialist Party boycotted the panel’s vote on the report because the issue had become embroiled in a simultaneous debate on national identity initiated by President Nicolas Sarkozy. Mr. Luca said only 14 members of the commission voted — eight for and six against.

The report was the culmination of an inquiry into the wearing of all-enveloping burqas, a full-length garment with a grill over the eyes, that began after President Sarkozy said in June that the burqa was “not welcome” on French territory. Mr. Sarkozy called for a resolution by lawmakers condemning veils, to be followed by a debate on legislation.

The panel’s findings were also directed at the niqab, which leaves the eyes uncovered.

Critics of the veils have described them as a tool of extremism, a hindrance to women’s rights and an affront to France’s cherished secularity.

But the debate raised concerns about the constitutionality of state mandates on dress and the possibility of aggravating tensions among France’s Muslims, many of whom feel alienated and excluded from social and economic progress.

“I don’t think an ideology should be fought through constraining measures but through ideas,” Mohammed Moussaoui, the head of a national coalition of Muslim organizations, told The Associated Press on Monday. “It’s very difficult to talk about the liberation of women through a law that constrains.”

He said, however, that it was legitimate to ask women to remove their veils in all “public services” like post offices and schools “where identification is necessary.”

In 2004, the government banned head scarves and other signs of religious affiliation in public schools in France.

France has largest Muslim population in Western Europe — the majority with roots in North Africa — estimated at between five and six million. But fewer than 2,000 women wear the full veil in France, according to the Interior Ministry. France would become the first European country to adopt legislation on restricting the full veil.

The center-right Danish prime minister, Lars Loekke Rasmussen, said last week that his government was also considering restricting the burqa and niqab. And in November, Swiss voters supported a referendum to ban the building of minarets on mosques.

The leader of Mr. Sarkozy’s rightist grouping in Parliament, Jean-Francois CopĂ©, has already presented a draft bill that would make it illegal, for reasons of security, for anyone to cover their faces in public. Violators would face fines, according to the draft, which is not due to be debated until after regional elections in March.


p/s: My history professor is right: Sarkozy is crazy.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Words...they are NOT just words.

“America is not a good place to study, nope.”

“Ooh, why the many onions? You’re not cooking, are you?”

“C’mon, all you’ve learned are just the little things.”

“Do you know that I have a friend who took Political Science and guess where she’s working now…Astro!”

Go on and guess who said all those things to me.

...Those who are related to me by blood. (Not my immediate family, though.) They sure know how to be funny when not asked for, don’t they?

Sure, I don’t go to Harvard, but where did you go to? Yeah I can’t cook for our whole family, but my seniors (yup, not just my husband) really like my spaghetti. I may have only learned a little, but they sure as hell are more than what you know. So what if your friend works at Astro, as least she’s working.

I’m sick of this. To those who saw my status on Facebook, you now know what ‘this’ refers to.

I’m your family, dammit. (I’m sorry for the language…no, I’m not. I’m sick of feeling I’m never going to be good enough.) I’m sick of justifying everything that I do. I’m sick of having to prove what I’m made of. I’m sick. For as long as I’ve lived, I realize I’ve said those words more than once. Why? Why? Is it so hard to support me and my choices? Is it so hard to believe me? Is it so hard to just say, “Wow, that’s amazing! Hope you can teach me a thing or two when you get back.” Is that so hard? Don’t start lecturing me now on how I seldom show respect. My silence is my show of respect. My silence is show that your words do matter to me. I take them, think about them, and most importantly, act on them. What about you?

Kak Yong wrote something on her blog that I totally agree with – don’t misjudge those who appear to be strong. I do believe that the strongest on the outside are the most self-conscious on the inside. It’s no wonder that I have a lot to rant on here, eh?

Every time we get back home from school, the first thing I’ll do is find my Lailee and hug her – everyday. Don’t take my words if you don’t want to, ask Diana. Even though she’s annoying sometimes (Lailee, not Diana) –running around when we’re sleeping, getting on us when we’re studying – she’s my baby. After a full day away from her there’s nothing I want more than to tell her over and over that she’s my baby and I love her – and Lailee’s just a cat.


p/s: Maybe Zaim's right, I should reconsider going back until I'm confident I've become a better me, although that obviously won't be enough. (Take note of that Zaim.)

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Troubling toil

I used to plead, “Let me go! Let me go!”

I was also a coward, “The future’s too bleak.”

I did lack confidence, “I’m no better.”

Most importantly, I hid behind a wall...And I also stepped into your truck.


Not much has changed.

Except for you.


Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Them, seriously?

We live in world where society is a friend we did not call nor seek – it is. Society includes our family, friends, neighbors, classmates, bosses, and those people without a home calling your attention every time you pass them. There is, clearly, no escape. We are taught to be social beings for a long time. A Hi here, Bye there, and Thank You most times. But sometimes many don’t realize that being a society is not like being in a relationship: no one is above the other. Instead of figuring out who wears the pants, it is a state of equality – that of us, and them.

I have been a troublemaker all my life. Not really causing trouble, but not exactly living up to the norm acceptable. Is it “life is too short” that they use to say? It is very difficult to try to control everything, which is why I choose not to. In a universe where you can no longer control the weather as much as you can control the mysteries of the heart, every person is a weakling. You think Obama is all that powerful? Ask him to cure Cancer. You think Raja Petra is a genius? Ask him to come back and face the music. Nobody’s powerful enough.

In the same way, I do not waste precious moment to think of the things that are out of my grasp. I can’t make the bus appear whenever I’d like for it to. I can’t make the professors here pronounce my name correctly the first time, every time. And I definitely cannot make everyone loves me. I just can’t. If I do, I will just go against everything I believe in – and have worked for – to please those social beings that never even once bother to ask if my pinkish cheek is hurting me every time I made the effort to meet them.

Shila, my best friend, used to be so concerned when we were in school. She’s the lovable type whereas I’m the kind of girl which is only the cup of tea for a few. Every one falls in love with Shila at first sight, but others need to get past my sarcasm to see my ‘good side’. Once a while a teacher would appear frustrated and Shila would be like, “Syaz, is it my fault?” I was truly annoyed. You lived live the best you can, don’t you? If you knew how to act differently, or in a more socially acceptable manner, you would, wouldn’t you? So why stress yourself over things you can’t control? (Of course Shila’s a lot laid-back now ;)) People will keep on talking. Try being an angel; at the end of the day, this is not heaven, yet. You want reality, this is reality. People are people. They like to talk, and nothing sensationalize a conversation more than your shortcomings, however small they may be! That’s human being for your introductory course! You try your best but you can never win. NEVER.

My philosophy is just living life the way YOU are proud of. Not what they think you SHOULD be, but what you ARE. That way, no matter what bad things people say about you, they can never bring you down because you know this is your life to be lived. I’m not saying go on, try some drugs because they make you happy, no! I’m saying with your sound judgment, you should be PROUD of the way you’ve lived your life. Yes, people make mistakes a lot of time. But the past is there to teach of the future. “Life is too short for you to make all your own mistakes. That is why you learn from others'.” An old quote of that sort by Will Smith has never left the back of my head. Take charge of what you can, laugh off what you can’t.

When the weather’s too cold, my pink cheek makes for a good piggy impression.


Saturday, January 9, 2010

His 21st!

Come 12 pm tomorrow, my husband (still quite surreal to say the word!) will turn 21, as he was born on January 11th 1989, Malaysia time. To celebrate his life, our relationship, and friends and family, I recorded this song by Malique of Too Phat, adding my own personal touch to the lyrics.

I love you, sayang, my husband, Abdul Rassyid.


Friday, January 1, 2010

Have A Little Faith

“But seeing [Pastor] Henry that day, being cheered by all those new faces, I believe, as the Reb once told me, that, with a little faith, people can fix things, and they truly can change, because at that moment, you could not believe otherwise.”

Reading Have a Little Faith, a book by Mitch Albom, is truly a gift. As a Muslim, I have always known that when there’s a little food on the table, it is because God does not wish for me to go hungry. If I have a little spare time, it has nothing to do with time management, but God’s wish. I could have chosen any book from Barnes & Noble, but I chose this book: a simple story of a Rabbi’s view of life as he approached death and a pastor’s rise from the lowest low. I am a Muslim. That does not stop me from appreciating stories of other faiths.

While reading about the Rabbi (or the Reb, as he is called in this book), I can’t help but smile here and there wherever I found similarities between the Reb’s view on life with mine. I was surprised that the things I appreciated most in life are the same as the Reb’s. Therefore it saddens me that whenever the word Jew, or Holocaust, or Hanukkah, is raised in the presence of Muslims, they would immediately think of the Palestinian cause and thus, stamped Jews with a bad rep. But if these people from the Abrahamic faith do some good, the ‘others’ would instantly think of an underlying motive, as if we are taught not to think otherwise.

If only everyone could just step back and see that there are many kinds of Jew as there are many types of Muslim. Not every Muslim observe whatever the Quran teaches us to, and not every Jew dreams of killing Muslims in their sleep. I was touched when reading the part where the Reb went to the north of Palestine, and found a children’s coloring book with a picture of an Arab family in it. Mitch Albom, the writer, asked him why he kept this picture of their supposed ‘enemy’. The Reb’s answer was simple: a family once lived. As it may be, not every Jew out there is a duplicate of the Reb, but if one person could take a firm stand, he could be the bigger voice that could change a generation.

Although this book was written by Albom about his journey on faith re-discovery, I re-discover mine too. Albom was honest in telling his story. He told of how he was taught since young about his ‘side’, and I can’t help but to ask “Isn’t the same happening back home?” If many are afraid that I’ll be brainwashed in the States for learning about the Holocaust, aren’t they being brainwashed too by our own clerics? And I don’t blame them, I understand. But fanaticism won’t bring about any good. Without a doubt, I believe in diplomacy.

Since Avatar has been the talk of town for a while now, let’s take a look there. To show that I have not forgotten my roots, the Na’vis in the movie reminded me of my own kind – people of my faith. To say that we are misunderstood is an understatement. It’s no longer about misunderstanding (as I have found out by learning from my educated, non-Muslim, Islamic Civilization classmates, who smirked where most of us would). More are aware of the difference between Shi’ites and Sunnis, and what the Sharia Law is about. But it is greed, ego, and thinking one’s race is better that is pulling the world (both this and the 2154 fiction of Pandora) apart. I am amazed that cinema-goers could sympathize with the Na’vis, but not with those living human beings, fighting to protect their homes and land, everyday.

“Have you ever known a man of faith? Did you run the other way? If so, stop running. Maybe sit for a minute. For a glass of ice water. For a plate of corn bread. You may find there is something beautiful to learn, and it doesn’t bite you and it doesn’t weaken you, it only proves a divine spark lies inside each of us, and that spark may one day save the world.”