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Terry Jones – The insane provocateur

In the last first decade of this century many worst incidents occurred which changed the world’s environment 360 degree. These guerilla attacks gave rise to fundamentalism in every corner of the world after the silence of 60 plus odd years after WWII & Hitler’s holocaust which had fill the world with hatred all around. The fall of WTC ignite the fire of new dimensions of orthodoxies. Once the peaceful & acceptable nature of Christians in the west has now turned anti Islamic fill with hatred with the eyes of discrimination towards the Muslim world. This has now became a major issue for all the nations of the world especially those who have been affected by the so called famed War on Terror which though started as a retaliation by the west to solve this radical mess but now has turned into an eye sore for the world with lives in millions have been lost on both the sides which just broaden a gap between the two theological worlds. If we people are serious to bring peace & harmony in the world then we together have to change our mind sets & follow the path of true light which never differentiate among the creatures of this world. As just the environment heated the events carried out by the `The Florida based pastor Terry Jones announced on July 12th, 2010 that he was planning to burn the Quran on the 9th anniversary of 9/11. The statement caused many protests and condemnations among not only Muslim organizations, but also organizations such as National Association of Evangelicals, German Evangelical Alliance and International Humanist and Ethical Union. President Obama, Hillary Clinton, Anders Fogh Rasmussen and various others gave their negative reaction fearing that the event would cause harm and have negative effect on the foreign security forces. President Obama called the burning event a stunt and urged Jones to not go through with the plans. The fear of the western leaders was right as Jones got the much needed publicity which sparked even the calmest corners in the most disturbed areas of the world costing lives of several innocents & risking more of another hundreds. A pastor is a shepherd used in Old Testament where it denotes that he has a responsibility to guide the herds of knowledge seekers & the followers who are following him for his role in their religion. If the leader started to follow the path which not only against the communal harmony but also denied theologically will not only disturbs the peaceful co existence of all the religions but also give rise to social in difference.

Though previous to 9/11, Jones had negotiation conversations with Imam Mohammad Musri and told him that he would cancel the burning if they would move the planned mosque away from Ground zero since no Americans wanted it there. Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf rejected this statement and said there were no plans of stopping the construction. So the negotiations between Jones and Musri continued and Jones wished to meet with Imam Rauf who did not want to meet “someone who isn’t committed to pursue peace.” Finally after much pressure, Jones announced on September 10th that he was not going to burn the Quran after all, but had no guarantees for the future. And indeed he was right, for after almost 7 months of silence, Terry Jones got his 15 minutes of fame together with the Christian fundamentalist Wayne Sapp when they burned the Quran in a church in Florida March 20, 2011. It is just an insane behavior of Terry Jones who just wants to force his views on others creating a huge divide in already a much divided society which still struggling to stand on its feet for its peaceful survival. Before they burned it, the Quran had to go through a trial as the law states; Innocent until proven guilty. So these 32 people (including some ex-Muslims who have converted to Christianity) found the Quran guilty of a variety of crimes such as murder, rape, deception and being responsible for terrorist activities around the world. The punishment for these crimes was to be soaked in kerosene for an hour and then burned on a barbeque grill in a ceremony lead by Wayne Sapp. This made me think about which haunts they had in Europe and America in the 1400th-1600th century when women and girls were trialed for being witches and of course they would be burned alive on the stake as a punishment. This is completely unjustified of taking Holy book to trail which from ages since its formation has never taught its followers to take laws in their hands, to hate other religions & deny others of their freedom. Every religion & every book of his teachings never taught against the nature of Almighty & the human society. It we who have divided ourselves with greed, hunger, who seeks the social comforts of the changing environment, human civilizations has been a witness to several such incidents where whenever the hate spreads its roots it had just affected those who are the planters of its seeds. Humans harvest only which they sow & the history is the best place to seek into it. If we still not wake up from our self centered theology then the day is not far when we will turn ourselves into a cannibal beast killing the very existence of the small share of the harmony which still lives in our hearts.

Who is Terry Jones?

Jones is a native of Cape Girardeau, Missouri and was born in October 1951. Jones received no academic degree in theology but was given an honorary degree from the unaccredited California Graduate School of Theology in 1983, which now seeks to disassociate itself from him.

In 2002, Jones was fined $3800 by a Cologne court for falsely using the title “doctor” when all he had was an honorary degree from an unaccredited school. And according to the German Evangelical Alliance, Jones was released from the leadership of the Christliche Gemeinde Köln in 2008 due to his indefensible theological statements and his craving for attention and fraud. A leader of the Cologne church said that Jones, “didn’t project the biblical values and Christianity, but always made himself the center of everything.” German press agency Deutsche Presse-Agentur reported that church members said Jones ran the Cologne church like a sect leader and used psychological pressure on members, “subordinating all activities to his will.”

In addition to the church, the Dove World Outreach Center maintains an unaccredited boarding school, called the “Dove World Outreach Academy”. The Gainesville Sun has resembled the academy to boot camp as students are prohibited to have family contact from outside, including attendance at family weddings and funerals. They also work without compensation, selling, packing, and shipping furniture for TS and Company, a business owned by Sylvia Jones, wife of Terry Jones.

In 2009, Terry Jones posted a lawn sign which stated in large red letters “Islam is of the Devil” which also became the title of a book published by Jones in 2010. The signs drew protests by local activists and the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR). CAIR responded to another sign which read, “Koran 9:5 Kill the disbelievers wherever you find them.” saying the quote was out of context, and aimed at antagonizing Muslims.

Outcome of the burning

A peaceful protest on April 1st ended up in a bloody attack when 8 people were killed when a group of mob started to attack the UN building in the city of Mazar-e Sharif. There were also many Afghans killed and injured in the protests that have continued every day in Kandahar. To this, Terry Jones has answered that the Church is startled by the outcome but doesn’t feel responsible. The western leaders haven’t said much in order to not give Terry Jones more publicity and attention, but everyone is exited waiting for what will be said and done. Obama has already condemned and referred to the episode as “an act of extreme intolerance and bigotry.” President Karzai did also condemn the episode of burning and the attack on the UN compound but the Afghans is not satisfied as they feel they have been violated in the worst thinkable way. The outcome which was expected & feared by the concerned corners has now resulted in much shame for the west which though always preaches its own terms for peace now left with no reasons to act as a centre for justice & peace of the world. The incidents like Quran Burning & its Trail by Pastor Terry Jones will just increase the already widen fault line where as publicizing these incidents & instead of preventing these events if we promote them & avoid reforming our ideological patterns then fighting for democracy, peace & human rights will be a cheating to the world of innocent people who needs the guidance of our leaders to show them the true path for peace & love, sermon for killing Terry Jones will only give rise to hatred & will promote these events which in reality should not happen & must be prevented by all means & by all religions

Freedom of speech

In a democratic society, burning the Quran goes under the freedom of expression and not something that can be prosecuted in court. The caricatures done several years ago were the symbol of the same; to spread hate and discrimination and violating people’s faith, but the burning of the Quran now was done to offend and nothing else. I have always supported the freedom of speech but freedom of speech does not mean that you can insult other religions, cultures or ethnicities. My common sense tells me that I don’t have to agree with everybody, but I must respect others. It’s very sad that innocent people have to suffer because of an ignorant and extremist man who doesn’t consider the safety of others but rather wishes to have attention. USA must also understand that these kinds of stunts does put US’s image lower in the rest of the world and makes them more isolated and target for terrorist attacks. One ignorant man that doesn’t know what he is doing will cost many innocent people their lives.

So what is the benefit of burning the Quran? Did it make Islam vanish? Did it help him in the cause of “fighting Islam,” or evil as Terry Jones likes to refer to Islam as. If Terry Jones had been a Christian man, he would never have insulted a religion with almost 1.5-1.6 billion followers. Christianity is also a peaceful religion that pursues peace and not hate like Jones do. Christianity does not insult other faiths but gives a message to love with your heart, soul and mind and to love your neighbor as yourself. If he instead of turning on a great turmoil in the world, had tried to pursue towards peace and understanding in a time where people easily gets divided, he would have earned more and probably get the fame he so deeply desired.

In today’s world there is an urgent need for theological reforms in all the religious ideologies & various schools of thought where just only brainwashed fundamentalism exists. The organizations like Dove World Outreach Centre, Madarsas, Institutions & the representatives should think that if someone is doing wrong & is been hurt then they should come forward to aid him not retaliate in a negative manner which not only disturbs the nations image but also puts a big question mark on the efforts of the peaceful & affected corners of the world where even a minor spark of negativism ignites the emotions of the people & puts the lives in danger not only of the locals but also lives of those who are just doing their but to make this world a peaceful place to live. Now the west & east should also initiate a reform process in its Church & Imam system as if they dictate & support reforms across the world & intervene in the national policies of each other’s then they must first rectify the overall theological system of them which has been affected by their own neo external affairs policies & approach.

Churches & Madarsas are the institutions for our respected religions that have never taught violence & have always promoted peace while asking their followers to preach the message of love & harmony not hatred. So, it’s the duty of every human to promote peace & to bring those people to trail who are affecting our society with their orthodox ideologies which do not have any place neither in any religion nor in the world.  If we support freedom of speech as the right for every human then we should also respect that where bearing a responsibility of our own perceptions which not only sour the peace bowl but disturbs the brotherhood of the social nature. Hate speeches & events which support hatred as their core must be prevented or if possible stopped by the authorities responsible for maintaining law n order including those who know of their existence. If something did wrong or gone unjustified by other than it should not be retaliate in the same manner. If our leaders talks about global multicultural society then it is also their duty to protect the dignity of one’s personal society which is free from the dirt of all the radical ideology of orthodox sentiments with no means to serve for the society of their own, creates a world of discrimination which quenches the thirst with the blood of innocent peace makers. Voice is free but not the thoughts which if exposed turns out to be a disaster, so just calms your mind & sees through hearts let see the world with a peaceful thought where there is no violence, hatred & class but just the Almighty which showed always the brighter path.

Angelina Jolie & The UN show off

The American film star and UN ambassador Angelina Jolie has spent two days in Afghanistan to meet refugees in war-torn country.

– We must make sure to rebuild the country now. This means that we not only provide shelter, but also ensure that there is water, employment opportunities, schools for the children and medical clinics, “said Jolie in a statement at the end of the stay.

Jolie arrived in Afghanistan on Monday and ended the visit on Wednesday.This is the actor’s second visit to Afghanistan. Though this great actress is also a great social worker but UN must focus on the fast & efficient utilization of funds & proper execution of the projects. People needs the basic not the stars to get plastic smiles as a remedy for their wounds. Though the efforts are app laudable but nothing better has been neither done so far nor achieved.

Child Marriages – Robbing them of their innocence

Throughout the world, the problem of early, forced marriages of children is considered to be a violation of basic human rights. Child marriage is defined by when a child who is below the legal age (usually below the age 15) is married to an adult. Usually it’s almost a Young girl married to an older man. The second form of marriage is an arranged marriage where the parents of the child(ren) and the other person arrange a future marriage. Here, the two individuals who are promised to each other, does not often meet until the wedding ceremony which happens when they both are considered to be of a marriageable age.

Occurrence

It has been estimated that 49 countries around the world has a significant child bride problem, but the numbers are estimated to be higher because of the unregistered and unofficial marriages. UNICEF survey results of 100 countries shows that in developing countries, over than 60 million women aged between 20 and 24 was married before the age of 18. In the countries of Bangladesh, Central African Republic, Chad, Guinea, Mali, and Niger, more than 60% were found to have been married before 18. Despite sanctions on child marriage, more than 100 million children were expected to marry between 2005-2015.

Article 16.1 of United Nations Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women of 1979 (CEDAW http://www.un.org/womenwatch/daw/cedaw/cedaw.htm)states that;

a) Men and women have the same right to enter into marriage.

b) The same right to freely choose a spouse and enter that marriage with their free and full consent.

Article 16.2 states: The betrothal and marriage of a child shall have no legal effect, and all necessary action, including legislation, shall be taken to specify a minimum age for marriage. CEDAW has not been ratified by seven UN member-states; the United States, Sudan, Somalia, Iran, Nauru, Palau and Tonga.

Although this practice is banned by many countries, there are still many children who are victims of practice. It is combined with culture and has many purposes. Some cultures use child marriage among different tribes, villages and families to secure political and other ties between them to prevent themselves from being assimilated. Other families use child marriage to gain financial ties with wealthier people to ensure their success. Every women and girl has the right to a healthy and just life but when violence of any kind occurs, the international community has the supreme responsibility to respond and transform norms and behavior that condones these human right violations.

How does child marriage affect girl’s futures?

No matter where child marriage occurs, it is regarded as violation towards the children with tiny voices. Parents choose to marry off their daughters early for a number of reasons. Poor families may regard a young girl as an economic burden and her marriage as a necessary survival strategy for her family and some see no value in girls compared to a boy. Others are concerned of their daughters might lose their virginity or get pregnant before marriage. Changing these views requires education and the right to refuse marriage. The parents think that marrying away the daughters protects them from the risk and danger of sexual assault and the husband cares of her as a male guardian.

In the rural villages of these countries many young girls are rarely allowed out of their homes unless it is to work in the fields or to get married. These uneducated girls are often married off at the young age of 11. Some families allow girls who are only 7 years old to marry. It is very unusual for a girl to reach the age of 16 and not be married.

Child marriage by region

Click at the image for a larger picture.

Europe

In France, 11% of girls are married before the age of 18.

Africa

Because of poverty, culture, tradition and conflicts makes child marriages widespread all over Africa. In many tribal systems, the groom has to pay a bride price to the bride’s family in order to marry her. In many parts of Africa, this payment happens in cash, cattle or other valuables but the amount decreases as the girl gets older. That’s why, the family’s wishes to marry the girl as early as possible, most of the times before puberty. Over half of the girls are sent away for marriage as the parents needs the bride price to clothe, feed and educate the rest of the family while a boy can gain education, employment and get married later.

According to many UN related reports made in Sub-Saharan countries, the incident of child marriages under the age of 15 is very high. This has resulted in health problems such as obstetric fistulae, prematurely, stillbirth, sexually transmitted diseases (STD), cervical cancer and malaria. In parts of Ethiopia and Nigeria, 50% of the girls are married as young as the age of 7. In parts of Mali, 39% of the girls are married before the age of 15 and in Niger and Chad; over 70% of girls are married before the age of 18.

Asia and South Asia

India

The status of the woman has been lower than the men for centuries and she has been regarded as the disrespected element of the society in many places. Gujarat, Andhra Pradesh tops list of child marriages by accounting 40% of these incidents a year. A total of 104 cases of child marriage were reported across the country in 2008, which is an 8.3% increase over the previous year’s figure.

The child marriage restraint Act, 1929 was passed during the British rule in pre-partition India that forbade a male younger than 21 and a female younger than 18 to get married. As South-Asia has the highest rate of child marriages in the world, India stands for 40% of the world’s child marriages according to UNICEF’s ”State of the World’s Children -2009”. In an effort to handle this problem, the states of Rajasthan, Gujarat, Maharashtra, Karnataka and Himachal Pradesh, laws has been made and passed to register all marriages in order to make them valid. According to”National Plan of Action for Children 2005,” (published by the Department of Women and Child development of India) a goal was set out to eliminate child marriages by 2010. As for the child restrain act, a child is a person who, if a male, has not completed 21 years of age and if a female, has not completed 18 years of age. In case of such incident, the parent or guardian concerned may be punished with a simple imprisonment which may extend to three months and a fine. Those who solemnize and give consent to the wedding ceremony face the same punishment. A male above 18 years and below 21, entering into wedlock with a child, shall be punishable with simple imprisonment which may extend to 15 days or with fine which may extend to Rs1,000 or both. A male above 21 years marrying a child shall be punishable with simple imprisonment which may extend to three months and shall also be liable to fine.

Afghanistan

It is believed that between 60 and 80% of marriages are forced marriages and occurs mostly in the rural areas. This deprives the girls from education and isolates them further.

Pakistan

Even though the minimum age for marriage is 18 for men and 16 for girls, child marriages are still widespread and still practiced.

Bangladesh

According to the”State of the World’s Children-2009” report, 63% of all women aged 20-24 were married before the age of 18. The Ministry of Women and Children Affairs has been and still is making progress to increase women and girl’s education and employment opportunities. To reach out to those in rural areas, an attempt to speak with the religious leaders and cooperate with them has shown results and is hoped to decrease the practice.

Middel East

In April 2007, the International Center for Research on Women (ICRW) published a new study on child marriage in the world, “New Insights on Preventing Child Marriage: A Global Analysis of Factors and Programs.” The study included the latest ranking of the countries with the world’s highest incidence of child marriage. The chart included 68 countries and the country first on the list was Niger where 76.6% of women were found to have married before age 18, followed by Chad, at 71.5%. The proportion of child brides was above 60% in Bangladesh, Mali and Guinea and above 50% in Nepal, Mozambique, Uganda, Burkina Faso and India. Afghanistan does not appear on the list only because reliable facts are not available from that country. However, the incidence of child marriage in Afghanistan is believed to be quite high.

Yemen

49% of girls are married by the age of 18.

Saudi Arabia

Several human rights groups have documented high number of child marriages in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. Saudi clerics have justified marriage of girls as young as the age of 9 and there is no laws defining the minimum age of marriage. The Saudi Ministry of Health on their side issued an official statement expressing its rejection of the marriage of minors, warning of repercussions, including adverse health and psychological effects on young girls. The statement gave details of related reproductive problems, increased incidences of early osteoporosis, in addition to a higher probability of high blood pressure, possibly leading to kidney failure, emergence of distortions of pelvic bones, also accounting for mental illnesses caused by emotional deprivation suffered by young girls after being taken away from parents, such as hysteria, schizophrenia, depression, anxiety, personality disorders, and may even lead to addiction as a means of escape, as well as negative effects on children of minors, including delayed mental development.

United States

Laws regarding child marriage vary throughout the United States, though generally children 16 and over may marry with parental consent. Fewer than 16 generally require a court order in addition to the parental consent. The awareness of early forced marriage and sexual abuse of young girls in the United States was increased by the April 2008 rescue of numerous children living on a ranch owned by a polygamist sect in Texas. Children can also be married under the age of 18 with permission from their parents. In Texas, Alabama, South Carolina and Utah, girls can marry at the age of 14, in New Hampshire at 13, in Massachusetts and Kansas, as early as 12.

Until 2008, the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints practiced child marriage through the concept ‘spiritual (religious only) marriages,’ as soon as girls are ready to bear children, as part of its polygamy practice and laws have raised the age of legal marriage in response to criticism of the practice. In 2008, the Church changed its policy in the United States to no longer marry individuals younger than the local legal age as the Church leader Warren Jeffs was convicted of being an accomplice to statutory rape of a minor due to arranging a marriage between a 14-year-old girl and a 19-year-old man in 2007. The state of Texas removed all 468 children from the ranch and placed them into temporary state custody. FLDS denied the charges. The charges were eventually dropped in court as there was no solid evidence in support of this, and it was determined that the state entered the ranch illegally.

South America

It is estimated that 29% of women aged between 15-24 were married before the age of 18 in Latin America and the Caribbean with Guatemala and El Salvador with the highest rates at 41% and 38%.

According to a report issued by the United Nations, these early marriage unions violate the basic human rights of these girls by putting them into a life of isolation, service, lack of education, health problems, and abuse. The UNICEF paper also states: “UNICEF believes that, because marriage under the age of 18 may threaten a child’s human rights (including the right to education, leisure, good health, freedom of expression, and freedom from discrimination), the best way to ensure the protection of children’s rights is to set a minimum age limit of 18 for marriage.

Negative effects on child marriages

Poverty

Girls living in the poorest 20% of households are more likely to get married at an early age than those living in the wealthiest 20%.

Education

Women with primary education are significantly less likely to be married or in union as children than those who received no education. In Zimbabwe for example, 48% of women who had attended primary school had been married by the age of 18, compared to 87% of those who had not attended school. Furthermore, once entering a marriage or union, women are much less likely to receive further education or get divorce.

Health

Premature pregnancies are common with young brides, and these cause higher rates of maternal and infant mortality.

Since many married adolescents are pulled out of school at an early age, they may be unfamiliar with basic reproductive health issues. Despite the large number of married girls, policies and programs often fail to address their vulnerability to HIV, sexual transmitted diseases (STD) or other reproductive health needs. Furthermore, while parents may see early marriage as a way to help keep their daughters from becoming infected with HIV, data indicates that 17-22 percent of 15-19 year old girls in Sub-Saharan Africa are living with HIV/AIDS as opposed to 3-7% for their male counterparts.

Poor health, early death and lack of education lead the list of major problems related to child marriages. Child brides have a double pregnancy death rate rather than women in their 20s because of their young age. Besides from having children in young age, girls are also exposed for damages and rupture in their reproductive organs and their children will end up being sicker and weaker ending in an early death. These young girls are also at an increased risk of chronic anemia and obesity. Other problems are listed as:

  • Limited social support due to social isolation.
  • Limited educational opportunities or no schooling options.
  • Intense pressure to become pregnant.
  • An increased risk of maternal and infant mortality.
  • Restricted freedom of movement and social mobility.
  • Early marriage that creates a lifetime of poverty
  • Statistically, child brides have a higher risk of becoming victims of domestic violence, sexual abuse and murder.

Abuse

Abuse is common in child marriages. Women who get married in a young age are more likely to be beaten or threatened, and more likely to believe that a husband might sometimes be justified in beating his wife. Some women end up being murdered as well for different reasons. In addition, children who refuse to marry or who choose a marriage partner against the wishes of their parents are often punished or even killed by their families in so-called ‘honour’ killings.

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