NGOs aid the Taliban if they stay in Afghanistan

If NGOs bow to Taliban’s newest demand, barring women from working with NGOs, they accept the regime´s misogynistic agenda.

In Afghanistan, the Taliban have once again found a way to curtail women´s freedoms and opportunities. After coming into power, the first thing they did, was to barre girls from going to school beyond sixth grade. Then, women were banned from going to college. Now, Taliban is banning female employees working with NGOs – the ban includes foreign women. Did I mention that girls and women above sixth grade are not allowed to sing in public? The completely male-dominated Taliban government wants girls and women out of the public eye and sphere.

Taliban wants women at the same infantile level they themselves belong to by introducing one misogynistic law after another. They cover their women, hide them away, deprive them of every opportunity to think, see and speak independently, and from singing and dancing – a clear strategy that makes the likelihood of organizing and rebellion minimal.

Imagine, if Western NGOs comply and bow to these horrible power-hungry, misogynistic types and allow themselves to be cowed and shod and submit to these outlandish rules. It would mean they accept the role as the cowardly dogs, dodgy Westerners and yes, the women, Taliban hate so much.

Millions are deprived of access to aid because of the Taliban’s cruelty. Meanwhile, Afghanistan’s Minister of Economy, Qari Din Mohammed Hanif, announced in a press release that those organizations not complying will have their licenses to operate in the country reevoked.

According to The Red Cross, Afghanistan is facing one of its worst winters with a starving population. Millions are forced to choose between heating their homes and feeding their families. We are looking at a humanitarian disaster. Still, taking a stand should not be a difficult choice. Looking at the Taliban´s history and the ever-tightening grip on Afghan women, it is unlikely that the Taliban will stop at their latest attempt. The West has no choice, it cannot bow down to the Taliban´s latest insanity. Imagine the victory these cloak-covered men would see this as, if they could make the good-hearted industry of the West jump when they say “jump”.

Imagine, if Western NGOs comply and bow to these horrible power-hungry, misogynistic types and allow themselves to be cowed and shod and submit to these outlandish rules. It would mean they accept the role of the cowardly dogs, the codified Westerners and yes, the women Taliban hate so much.

Save the Children ‘s Norwegian spokesman, Neil Turner, has announced that his organization can no longer operate in Afghanistan. “We cannot help women and children without our female employees,” he said in a BBC interview the other day. “We have followed all the cultural norms; it is impossible to reach the Afghan women in desperate need without our 468 female employees.’

If NGOs choose to stay in Afghanistan under the new demand, they are aiding the Taliban – and the Afghan misogynist men. Afghan women will be left to their own devices in complicated childbirths and in other circumstances where men are not allowed to be present, while Western NGOs help little Ibrahim, Muhammed and Ali band-aiding their booboos and patching up Mustafa’s gunshot wounds.

I wonder what is going through the Afghan girls and women´s heads in the light of this new ban. What are their reactions to the fact that some organizations choose to stay – without being able and allowed to help them, those most vulnerable? The NGOs can invite men into their aiding tents for help – but not women, exactly as was intended by the greybeards.

Girls and women are the future in countries with living-conditions far from the rights, opportunities, and economic possibilities women enjoy in the West. Hungry for knowledge, these girls risk being flogged for logging on to an online class, offered by a Western educational institution. Finding that the very part of the world they look up to, as a representation for equal rights and freedom, is willing to let the turban, tunic shirt dressed village terrorists dictate Western representatives to work and obey in accordance with the Taliban’s view on women – that must be incredibly demotivating.


Hjælpeorganisationer hjælper Taliban, hvis de bliver i Afghanistan

Kvinder og piger betaler prisen, når nødhjælpsorganisationer bøjer sig for Talibans krav om, at kvinder ikke må arbejde for dem.

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Time has run out for places like Noma

Showing our distain for the treatment, employees in the culinary world must endure can be done when being mindful of where we put our money.

The closest I’ve come to dining at the world-renowned Danish restaurant Noma was when I visited The Willows Inn on Lummi Island. The chef used to work at the famous Copenhagen restaurant.

Sipping on my sparkling bubbles at an outdoor patio overlooking the Puget Sound, the tranquil atmosphere was abruptly interrupted when an infernal noise erupted. A mixture of shrill shouts, chants, megaphones, and musical instruments handled so effectively that every note that was out of tune reached me and the other guests.

“I’ll go talk to them,” I told my husband. All he wanted was to enjoy an evening without kids, hold hands, and have a private conversation. But he knows me well enough, so he didn´t object.

“What are you protesting against?” I asked them.

The person in charge told me about unpaid wages, inhumane working conditions, non-existent overtime pay and sexual assaults.

We often talk about that night. Not because the food left an impression, it was rather boring and predictable – but because that night we got to talk about what gentrification does to a community and about, and I understand this may come across as a bit of a white woman´s privilege, that we as consumers have a choices to make when it comes showing our values by being mindful of what we decide to spend our money on.

Had I known that the restaurant on Lummi Island with its 900 residents was at the center of a controversial case about pay, gender discrimination and physical and psychological abuse, I would never have set foot in that place – regardless if the food had been world class or not.

This weekend I watched the movie “The Menu” and couldn’t help but think of Noma and other high-ranking Michelin-aiming restaurants known for unacceptable working conditions.

The mood has changed, the winds are blowing in a different direction. It’s no longer cool to brag about having been to Noma – on the contrary, it’s almost considered a distasteful waste of money that could have been spent in so many other useful ways. The Menu points a finger, claiming that dining at a high-end Michelin restaurant is like a metafiction. The clown is the guest who leaves behind thousands of dollars on the restaurant table where he has been taken for a fool all night. Through a nonsense avantgarde description of food, the guest is tricked into believing that what he consumes is art – and so what ends up in the toilet is praised through a dance of words.

It is not benign things kitchen workers at Noma must put up with: odd working hours, being treated like brainless amoebas, physical and psychological abuse, poor pay, etc.

In the film “The Menu” it is clear that the emperor has no clothes in the sense that one of the guests, a woman who does not belong to the one percent of the population who can afford to eat at a fancy Michelin restaurant, lets the chef know that his food is boring and that she would rather have a cheeseburger.

Maybe it’s time to tear down restaurants instead of the people who work in them? And maybe it’s time for us as guests to make choices that don’t show what sophisticated avantgarde-ish we are. Maybe it´s time to stand up for people who´s working conditions we would never ourselves accept?


Tiden er løbet fra Noma

Med pengepungen kan vi vise vores modstand over for den behandling, medarbejdere i den kulinariske verden arbejder under.

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Jehovah´s Witnesses violate the rights of children

Exclusion of minor children is in violation of the Convention on the Rights of the Child

Norway’s State Administration has settled a case in which it determines that children’s rights are violated when Jehovah’s Witnesses practice their exclusion methods. Children are exposed to negative social control and are held accountable within the organization´s closed legal system – and are judged as adults. All children deserve the same level of rights, not just Norwegian children.

If you are registered as a “recognized religious community” (Act no. 1533 of 19 December 2017 on religious communities outside the national church) in Denmark, you have a number of financial advantages regarding (property) tax and VAT. In addition, members can donate a tax-dectable amount.

In Norway, brave members of Jehovah´s Witnesses contacted the authorities because they felt trapped and did not dare to leave the sect for fear of the personal consequences it would have. Yesterday, Norway’s State Administration announced to the Jehovah’s Witnesses organization that the religious freedom of the members is violated when the organization expels its members. The decision does not mean that Jehovah’s Witnesses will disappear from Norway. They can still practice their religion, they just no longer get millions of tax crowns every year, and then they lose the right to seal marriages.

In October, Jehovah’s Witnesses in Norway were warned that the financial state support was about to end. On the same occasion, the organization was asked whether it wanted to change its exclusionary practices so that it could continue receiving government support. To that, the Jehovah’s Witnesses organization replied no. At the same time, the organization hired a high-profile lawyer.

Jehovah’s Witnesses practice what was previously known as “excommunication” and has since changed name to “exclusion,” probably to create an illusion to the public of a softer punishment.

But excommunication is exactly the same as exclusion. In practice, it means that you are dead to your family and former friends. I know how it works, because I have experienced it myself. If you are walking in the street and pass someone you have known since you were a child, he must pass you by without acknowledging you. If you call home, your parents must hang up immediately. No contact, whatsoever, is allowed. If you become desperate and show up outside your parents’ doorstep, they must must close the door on you – the treatment of an excommunicated member is the same, no matter how old or young he or she is. Imagine how many excommunicated members die from suicide or go back into the cult – not to mention those who do not dare to leave for fear of the treatment they know they will have to endure.

That is precisely why Norway has now had enough. It is inhumane to treat especially children and young adults like this. When I confronted my mom with this, I was told that had made the choice when I chose to be baptized and therefore knew the consequences when I chose to leave the sect. To be clear, I was baptized two weeks after my 14th birthday, had not yet had my first period, had never been in love, or kissed a boy – in short, I had accepted restrictions, I had no understanding of.

The sect strongly encourages you to get baptized as early as possible – after that you are reliable for your actions according to their rules and restrictions. You are held accountable for your actions on equal terms with adults. I have heard of children as young as 8 who have been baptized – and judged as adults when they start asking questions or breaking the sect’s rules.

There has been a citizens’ proposal to deprive Jehovah’s Witnesses in Denmark of their recognition as a religious community. Unfortunately, not enough signed the petition for the Danish Parliament to consider the proposal.

That’s a shame. On the one hand, Jehovah’s Witnesses are immensely happy to receive the economic benefits that the Danish state provides, on the other hand, such a state-supported economy is de facto a symbol of accepting the inhumane, sectarian doomsday cult’s practice, which, with its Gestapo methods, forces the members to rat on each other – with severe personal consequences.

So, what has been Jehovah’s Witnesses reaction to the decision in Norway? Ironically, they state that they are a persecuted minority, that their freedom of religion is challenged, that they are the victims of a crusade that tries to make the lives of the witnesses as difficult as possible, and pressure them to change the interpretation and practice of the Bible’s message, which they of course “have no intention” of doing. It is tragicomic to see how their manipulative rhetoric trickery is turned upside down.

My hope is that more countries will look to Norway as a pioneering country – not only when it comes to financial support and lucrative tax-exemptions for Jehovah’s Witnesses, but for all religious communities, cults, and sect organizations that take children and young people hostage and use social control contrary to the Convention on the Rights of the Child and general common sense. The state must play a greater role – especially in democratic countries. After all, we can only expect more insane religions and sects on our doorstep in the future.


Børn skal ikke straffes som voksne – men det bliver de inden for Jehovas Vidner

At udstøde mindreårige børn er i strid med Børnekonventionen

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World Cup in Qatar: Dictatorships 1 – Democracy 0

The soccer World Cup was one big victory lap for authoritarian regimes.

“I don´t give a shit! I’m here to watch soccer,’ the Danish soccer fan said on TV.

He was in Qatar to watch the Danish national team play and was asked by a journalist how he felt about the debate about human right violations in the autocratic desert state.

To the democratic-minded journalists who focused on the atrocities – thank you. The Western World Cup journalists who focused on the conditions in Qatar did their best to shine a light and raise awareness, but unfortunately they lost the debate. The rest of the world doesn’t seem to care. The western values have lost, helped by FIFA, who lashed out at Europe and the West, accusing us of double standards and hypocrisy. In the Arab part of the world, that announcement was received with gloating smocks.

If we roll over and denounce our values to enjoy 90 minutes of yelling, high adrenaline, and testosterone-filled roars over 22 young men running around a field, I worry for our democracies in the future.

Sports and politics have always been inextricably intertwined. But focus have changed. Now, the focus is not on money for underprivileged states. Instead, identity and an awareness of privilege. FIFA signaled that it is time for Europe to have a diminished role and that the arrow of influence and power should be pointing elsewhere. Europe was once, due to its colonial empires etc., the villain and must apologize for thousands of years before it can allow itself to criticize the conditions in non-democratic states. So, FIFA is turning its interest towards authoritarian states – I would be suprised if Saudi Arabia doesn´t get to host the World Cup in 2030.

There has been a shift in the debate. Democracy versus autocracy has become the overarching theme and FIFA seems to have picked sides – in favor of autocratic states. Democracy-minded states are facing resistance when trying to focus on human rights violations, and Qatar’s PR machinery have succeeded in bringing together large parts of the Arab and Muslim world and dominate the narrative. Even sports journalists initially concerned with human rights ended up writing more about soccer and less about human rights at the end of the World Cup.

If we roll over and denounce our values to enjoy 90 minutes of yelling, high adrenaline, and testosterone-filled roars over 22 young men running around a field, I worry for our democracies in the future.

Europe’s values were attacked and tested during this World Cup final. Should it have escaped anyone’s attention, democracies are under attack. Apparently, most people in the free Western democracies are indifferent to the conditions women and children and critical voices have to endure, as long as it does not affect their everyday life. We seem to be confident that we will never have to fight for our democratic values in our part of the world. But we are wrong. Meanwhile, thousands of innocent people lose their lives far from our hemisphere, but we don´t care as long as we can gobble down hot dogs and chuck IPAs, and feel entertained.

It’s that easy – if you choose to close your eyes. But doing so is ignorant, selfish, and not particularly far-sighted. The stakes could hardly be any dirtier. History repeats itself – Berlin should never have had the Olympics in 1936, despite a heated public debate in Denmark at the time about the conditions in nazi Germany. Clear minimum requirements should be in place for who is worthy of hosting major sporting events – and in that context, authoritarian states have to be left off the ranking list.

So what does the future look like for major sporting events? – Belarus, Saudi Arabia, and Qatar have already been granted major sporting events in the near future. So cheers! – sporting events are on their way to take place in dictatorial autocratic states with arenas of human life on these countries conscience.


VM i Qatar: Diktaturstater 1 – Demokrati 0

VM i fodbold var én stor sejrsrunde for autoritære regimer.

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Will exposing the British royal family destroy the institution from within?

In a new Netflix documentary, Meghan and Harry reveal life within the royal family.

“Meghan and Harry” is the name of a new documentary series that will premiere on Netflix on December 8. The series covers the period from the couple started dating till they withdrew from the English royal house.

“For royalists and traditionalists, Meghan and Harry are the worst thing that could happen.

Viewers were shocked after Oprah Winfrey’s interview with Meghan and Harry, that revealed that the royal English house was steeped in structural racism. That debate was healthy and good and came, like so much else in royal circles, far too late.

The couple have their own production company and are now ready with a documentary series. Reportedly, the series will lift the veil on the reality of conditions within the castle walls.

The American people, who generally love the English royal house, as well as the English population, are divided. Are the two media darlings taking it too far, financing their Hollywood jet set life with various interviews, a podcast, and public appearances while burning all bridges behind them, or are they brave in insisting on a conversation that is long overdue, when they focus on the antiquated life in the highest royal circles? A lavish life paid for by taxpayers, so that the royals can dine in their expensive robes and dance the lancer in one castle hall after another, while the next day waving to their subjects with gloved robotic twists in their wrist?

The new documentary promises to reveal dirty tricks, structural racism, planted stories and divergent agendas between the various family members.

It has only been a few months since King Charles III took over the throne from his mother. Hardly has Queen Elizabeth II been laid to rest, barely has he and Camilla found their royal footing in their new roles, which, to put it mildly, lack some of the glamour and class one expects from a king and his spouse, before the English royal family is again in a deep crisis.

The discussion about misogynistic families, structural racism, discrimination against children and grandchildren, mental health, etc. is important and does not get a larger platform than in the world’s most famous (royal) family.

But for royalists and traditionalists, Meghan and Harry are the worst thing that could happen. One has to ask: Where does the revelations end in this new world, where old ways of life are changing and where the next generation is turning everything upside down? It will not end with a revolution, which has traditionally been the way to get rid of emperors and tsars. It is not at all necessary to resort to this because the English royal family themselves manages to annihilate from within.


Er åbenhed den visse død for kongehuset?

Meghan og Harry åbner igen op i ny dokumentarserie.

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A bitter taste of hypocrisy and a lack of integrity in the world of soccer

The threat of a yellow card is enough to make soccer players stick their tails between their legs. Meanwhile, violations of human rights cost human lives, every day.

It would have been an honor. It would have been a minimal price to pay – a yellow card for the national team captain for wearing the message ” 1 love” on his armband in solidarity with LGBTQIA+ people. A small price to pay for staying true to one´s values and a convenient statement without actually having to participate in the fight for human rights.

It would have been beautiful. Imagine seeing Western democracies stand up for those who do not have the opportunity to express themselves freely, without facing consequences – in the form of beatings, imprisonment, persecution of family members, or even death. But a gentle pressure and poof – there goes their solidarity down in the gutters. The thought of being met with consequences for standing up for their values in the form of effecting their professional performance and financial future was enough to make them retreat.

I have written about why authoritarian dictatorship states should not be allowed to hold prestigious sporting events (tillykke med kvalifikationen, Danmark). It is a way of legitimizing their regimes, it is a mockery of the thousands of people who have paid with their lives so that our Western well-padded bums can sit and howl during the staged events, orchestrated by deeply anti-democratic and corrupt regimes.

Instead, it is the players on Iran’s national team who are leading the way by refusing to sing along to their country’s national anthem – and according to Amnesty National risk torture when they return to Iran. A country in chaos, where women have been protesting for weeks for freedoms every woman in the West takes for granted – hundreds have paid with their lives, many have been sent to internment camps, and even more have been tortured.

Once again, the West acts like fools. Little by little, the measures that have been negotiated in advance – such as getting a draft beer during football matches – are being withdrawn. But it’s not so much about the draft beer that fans don’t get down their throats – it’s about the fact that you can’t trust regimes that play by completely different rules than those Western countries are used to following. And when you bow your head and model your participation according to views far from those the West stands for – you give the violent regimes the platform they want and the recognition that invites them into the same club as Western democracies – a club they don´t belong to.

Not all countries are equal, that should be ok to say. When FIFA’s president, Gianni Infantino, in his infantile way said that the West must apologize for the next 3,000 years for the past 3,000 years of misdeeds, it screams to the high heavens. The logic is that the countries that have become wiser, i.e. the Western democracies, in no way have the right to hold countries without respect for general human rights accountable. This means that the killing of LGBTQIA+ people, the killing of women and migrant workers, the oppression of girls, etc., etc., should not be prosecuted and that nothing should be done about the fates of the weakest.

The lesson seems to be that we must close our eyes and rejoice that we live in countries where we do not have to fight for rights as independent, free individuals – and let the rest of the world’s weakest populations carry on as best they can. The soccer players seem to agree: The national Danish team (with DBU as the supreme body) has indicated that they will leave all integrity in the dressing room and crawl onto the field like mice – not like men – unwilling to take advantage of their unique , privileged position to show the onlooking world their solidarity with the world’s weakest and stand up for the values that the West, at a safe distance from the world’s focal points, prides itself on standing for.

___

En besk smag af hykleri og mangel på integritet i fodboldverdenen

Truslen om et gult kort er nok til at fodboldspillere stikker halen mellem benene. Imens koster brud på menneskerettighederne hver dag menneskeliv.

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Midterm election: Thank you to the women who voted for democracy and women´s rights

Shocking developments in the votes in the US midterm elections. American women have had enough!

“What are you most worried about? – inflation?” I asked my American friend on the phone last night.

»I don’t give a shit about inflation, if they take away my God damn rights as a human being!,« she replied, finishing her sentence by saying that she had done her part by voting, but that her mental health could not handle watching the midterm election results on live tv.

My friend is not the only one who has had enough. One state after another proved that last night. The news anchors watching the numbers come in couldn´t believe their eyes.

Traditionally, the party that has a president in the White House loses seats in Congress in the midterm elections. In addition, Biden has lower voter approval than many of his Democratic presidential predecessors. All the odds were against the Democratic Party – yet the votes show a clear trend: Americans, especially American women, do not want crazy Trump supporters representing them, they do not want to be deprived of democratic rights, and they do not want the right to choose over their own bodies taken away. Do never underestimate the power of women.

“Maybe America’s future isn’t as bleak, as I feared?

But the Republican party, that strategically and in historically large numbers put African-Americans and women on the ballot, to bring voters to think that the party does not exclusively consists of white men, did – underestimate women in America.

Also, Republicans thought they had a winning hand in Donald Trump, who has been touring and spewing his hate speech in important swing states. It turns out, though, voters don’t want more insane, boastful Trumpers in Congress – they want sensible politicians, they want cooperation – and they want democracy. I wonder if Trump will run for president after this?

Perhaps the Americans have also had enough of intimidation and violence. If there is one thing one should never do, it is telling an American what to do. Americans value their individual rights, and gun carrying, militia-clad men at the polls and violence against elected politicians’ family members may have proven too much for those who normally do not vote during the midterm elections.

It will take some time before we have a final election result. And during that period, conspiracy theories will start to simmer because Republicans will repeatedly cry out their never ending nonsense about voter fraud. Each state has carefully planned how to deal with a situation of potential riots in the streets.

Yesterday, I asked my 85-year-old neighbor Pat what she thought about the midterm elections. Whether she was nervous, even worried about democracy? “I have a different perspective, I’ve seen and experienced a lot, I’m not nervous,” she said.

And sweet Pat seems to be right. Maybe America’s future isn’t as bleak as I feared?

___

Midtvejsvalg i USA: Tak til kvinderne, der stemte for demokrati og for retten til abort

Chokerende udvikling i stemmerne ved det amerikanske midtvejsvalg. Måske har mange amerikanere alligevel fået nok?

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My Experience Being a Human Book

Despite the American life I have built with two children, a husband, and a dog, I will always carry a deep sadness and a sense of loss that I have to live with every day.

Have you heard of the Human Book Project? Neither had I – even though the idea, which has become an international sensation, is Danish. The project has existed since 2000, when a group of young Nordic initiators saw it unfold at the Roskilde Festival.

The idea behind The Human Book project is beautiful in its premis. Human rights cannot solely be enforced through legislation, the general public must also participate in the fight against injustice, oppression, and discrimination through intercultural dialogue. Unjudging and breaking down prejudice is the main idea.

On October 7, the Human Book Project reached the other side of the globe when Folio in Seattle held a two-day event. Don’t judge a book by its cover could not be more apt for the Human Book Project’s mission.

So, how does the project work in real life? In all its simplicity, you borrow a person instead of a book. The “reading” takes place as a dialogue with the human book. The purpose is to break down prejudices and strengthen dialogue through meeting strangers you might have a prejudice against. Examples of human books are: a policemen, homosexuals, feminists, Muslims, etc.

The human books in Seattle were a disabled pole dancer, a woman who could see spirits, a stuttering gay professor, an unemployed man, and many more. I was there as a book because I survived the sect Jehovah’s Witness.

Before the event, I was not sure about what questions I would get, whether there was anyone at all who would “check me out.” I decided that I would answer any question and not hold back anything.

So I let it all out, answered every question. Questions about physical and psychological abuse, sexual violence, suicide, and about being a girl trying to navigate in a world dominated by (male) adults with misogynist stone aged mindsets and an eternal threat of risking becoming God’s enemy if you didn’t following their rules.

And then, I told about gaining my freedom – and that the price for my freedom was losing everything: Family, friends, my identity. I told people that despite the life I have been able to build with two children, a husband, and a dog in my American life, I will always carry a deep sadness and a sense of loss that I have to live with every day.

That fact is something people don’t like to hear. In many peoples minds, the story about the evil Jehovah’s Witness men, the rules, the manipulation, the years of loss and the search for a new identity must have a happy ending. Period. No insecurity, no inferiority, no frustration, no longing. There cannot be deep scars on my soul, only small tears are accepted. And certainly, people do not want to hear that I have living family members with their own lives far from mine with whom I have no contact. Much less, they want to hear, that my children have a grandmother, aunts, and cousins with whom they could have a relationship – if things were not the way they are.

The Human Book Project did what it was supposed to do – because I pushed back when one well-meaning person after another told me that I HAD to contact my family. Meanwhile, I was thinking about the purpose of the project: unjudge and face your prejudices, in a dialog between a human book and its “reader,” it goes both ways.

The world is not as simple as many of us would like it to be. I told the well meaning and kind hearted human book borrowers, that not everything in my life is as I wish it was, even though I have the life I want, a life I chose. In my case, there is a price to pay. It’s a realization I’ve spent years arriving at, a realization my “readers” were not immediately willing to accept. And that is exactly what makes the Human Book Project so important.


Menneskebiblioteket går i kødet på fordomme

På trods af det liv, jeg har fået stablet på benene med to unger, mand og hund i min amerikanske tilværelse, vil jeg altid bære en dyb sorg og et savn, jeg må leve med hver dag.

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While women in Iran burn their headscarves, Danish Muslims talk about a non-debatable God given order for men and women

I recognize the Muslims’ rhetoric about fixed gender roles from my time in the sect Jehovah’s Witnesses.

Iran is on fire – women are burning their headscarves and protesting in the streets in hopes of freedoms Western Muslims take for granted.

On September 16, Masha Amini, a young 22-year-old Iranian woman, was arrested by the morality police. A few hours later, she died in their costidy.

Across Iran, women are protesting against the hard line the country’s leaders are increasingly implementing. More than 76 protesters have been killed, over 1,300 have been arrested.

“Sometimes you have to listen for what is not being said and pay attention to what is implied.

What do these women who put their lives on the line have to lose? Nothing. They see no future for themselves or their fellow sisters – that´s why they are willing to put their lives on the line. As a side note, this is a stark contrast to the hundreds of thousands of Russian men who are leaving Russia in droves these days instead of fighting a system that suppresses basic human rights.

In tiny Denmark, a group of Western, privileged Muslims discuss gender and equality on a radio podcast. “Patriarchy and matriarchy: Do they apply in Islam?”, is the theme of the program.

Sometimes you have to listen for what is not being said and pay attention to what is implied.

In the studio, are two guests; a woman and a man. Hamid and Kasper. The male radio host consistently lets Kasper answer first throughout the broadcast. Kasper has a smooth voice, but his words are as dangerous as snake venom.

“Patriarchy and matriarchy are words used in a gender discourse that is dangerous and that you have to be very careful with as a Muslim,” Kasper says. As the most natural thing, he draws up a view of gender that I recognize with a chill from Jehovah’s Witnesses. He would like to avoid concepts of gender, but that is “unfortunately” not necessary in society, i.e. the Danish one, in which he lives.

It is clear that one can easily be called Kasper and be brought up in Denmark without becoming a democratically minded citizen. In his soft voice, he continues with an argument that the two sexes have strict, God-given roles. The world is determined by Allah, the relationship between women and men is not up for debate.

His arguments are full of sardonic juice frosted with academic terms. He even refers to the feminist Simone de Beauvoir’s book “The Second Sex”, and pronounces the title in beautiful French. I wonder if the French feminist would turn in her grave if she heard how her words are being twisted in the mouth of a misogynist?

“Men and women are created as one body. If one part hurts, the other parts will hurt. If one part … makes a power takeover, the body becomes in conflict with itself.” The monologue elicits an approving murmur from the other two present in the radio studio. It’s been a long time since I’ve had to listen to such incoherent, illogical nonsense. Would they be able to see beyond their indoctrinated gender views if I with a twinkle in my eye asked them how the analogy makes any sense given that men’s health is statistically so much worse than women’s?

The woman in the studio, Hamid, personifies women at their worst – arguing against gender equality. She is skeptical of the terminology examining power structures between the sexes. And then she says something that sends a chill down my spine: “It’s part of the reality we’re part of right now.”

“Right now.”

That term was widely used within Jehovah’s Witnesses. “Right now” suggests that it will not always be like this. It is an encouragement or a warning depending on ones temperament.

There are no critical questions asked about the views presented, there is only a tunnel-vision conversation about how different a Muslim mindset is from the Western one based on gender equality. “We have a different approach to life… we fundamentally do not share the same outlook on life with this way of thinking.”

“This way of thinking.”

You mean the Danish, Western and extremely well-functioning one with a focus on gender equality? My thoughts drifted to the debate about integration and to the fact that the Danes are regularly criticized for using a them-and-us rhetoric. Ditches can be dug on both sides of the value frontline.

Iranian women and Afghan schoolgirls will probably disagree with Danish Kasper, who says: “The roles of men and women must not be challenged. This is a violent trend in the West.” He continues: ‘In Muslim environments there is a difference between the sexes. It is a man who is an imam … a man who teaches. The women are at the back of the room … that’s how it is.’

No matter how many academic phrases like “gender discourse,” “power structures,” and “post-structuralist” Kasper and Hamid use, the pot is full of the same dirty scum. I came to think of an expression we use here in the US, which reads: “to put lipstick on a pig.” No matter how hard you try to make something unpleasant sound or look nice, there will always be a stinking pig underneath.

Words are powerful, words can be twisted, and words can create prisons for those who are not allowed to speak freely. That premise is what Iranian women are rebelling against these days. They pay with their lives when they try to question the order their gender has been forced into.

It leaves me with a bad taste in my mouth when I hear Danish Muslims comfortably sitting in a radio studio in Denmark and pseudo-talk about how it is not important, yes indeed, downright ungodly to question the place, role and rights of the sexes. Western, privileged Muslims should stand shoulder to shoulder with their co-religionists in Iran and Afghanistan and fight for women’s right to be independent individuals who are not subordinate to men.

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Mens kvinder i Iran brænder deres tørklæder, sidder danske muslimer og taler om en fastlagt orden for mænd og kvinder

Muslimers retorik om faste kønsroller genkender jeg fra Jehovas Vidner.

Læs hele bloggen her:

Forfattere i USA står op for ytringsfrihed

Hvad siger det om vestlige demokratier, at de ikke beskytter deres borgeres ytringsfrihed?

Læs hele bloggen her:

Writers in the US are standing up for free speech

What does it say about Western democracies if they do not protect their citizens’ freedom of expression?

This Friday prominent American writers like Paul Auster and his wife Siri Hustvedt gathered on the stairs in front of The New York Public Library on Fifth Avenue under the slogan “Stand with Salman: Defend the Freedom to Write.” (“In solidarity with Salman Rushdie: Defend the right to write freely.”)

A week ago, Salman Rushdie was stabbed during a literary event north of New York City when a man jumped on stage and stabbed him several times with a knife. Ironically, Rushdie was about to talk about how the United States is a safe heaven for writers who cannot stay safely in their own countries.

For more than thirty years, Salman Rushdie has lived a life with security guards 24/7 – simply because he did what writers do – used his creativity in a literary work. In one such experiment he played with the idea that the holy book of the Muslim faith, the Koran, was not divinely inspired but rather the result of a whispers from Satan. For that work, The Satanic Verses, he garnered a fatwa from Iran’s top Islamic leader that encouraged any Muslim to murder Rushdie. In addition, a bounty of 3 million dollars was put on his head.

For more than thirty years, Rushdie has lived with the knowledge that radicalized Muslims all over the world had a desire to kill him or would rejoice if others did. Rushdie moved from Europe to the United States, where he, for more than twenty years, was almost able to live a normal life. Until now.

Unfortunately, he is not the only one who has had to move from Europe because he criticized Islam. As Europe becomes more Islamized, several people with inside knowledge of Islam have spoken out and problematized various cultural and value attitudes that are not compatible with Western, free democracies. For their outspokenness, they have received death threats. Several have even paid the ultimate price. In several cases, the European governments have not wanted to spend the financial means needed to protect people who spoke against Islam. For example , Ayaan Hirshi Ali, who is originally from Somalia and became a politician and critic of Islam in the Netherlands, also had to move to the United States because her Dutch homeland could not guarantee her safety.

When an author, journalist, comedian or writer is attacked for what he or she has as a profession, namely his words, what does he have left?

“An attack on a writer, cartoonist, comedian, politician, or public figure because of his or her statements and writing is an attack on each and every one of us who believe in democratic values.

Salman Rushdie has never compromised on his beliefs, but has again and again and again pleaded for the right to express himself freely. He has done this with intellectual depth and quirky humor. Despite living under a constant threat, he has helped other writers and intellectuals who were in vulnerable positions because they spoke out against authoritarian regimes or extreme religious groups. Most recently, he has joined a network that helps Ukrainian writers.

It shouldn’t be necessary to say. But these days, writers and other creative souls cannot freely use their creativity and write without fear. All over the world there is a keen sense of awareness that when you speak out or write critically about totalitarian regimes and Islam, there might be a price of violence to pay.

Our rights and freedoms here in the West are more fragile than we dare to admit. Because if we admit that premise, then we also admit that our societal model and form of government have failed. If we can only feel safe within the borders of our own countries, when we shut down criticism, turn a blind eye, and refuse to speak out on specific subjects, and self-censor ourselves, then the rights we think we have are a hollow illusion.

We are faced with a choice: we can remain silent in fear. Or we can do as the writers who, without face coverings and with their names clearly stated today on the steps in the heart of New York to the library that contains thousands of books – all the result of a creative, free process, refuse to let violence destroy the principles we believe in.

An attack on a writer, cartoonist, comedian, politician or public figure because of his or her statements and writing is an attack on each and every one of us who believe in democratic values in a society with individual liberties.

May the voices that dare to speak against regimes of violence, hatred and religion never remain silent when threatened! May we fight for them to be able to write and say what they wish without fear of reprisals. And may our western democratic states wake up soon, so that you don’t have to be brave to express yourself freely. #StandWithSalman