Cinnamon Stillwell

I’m the West Coast Representative for Campus Watch, a project of the Middle East Forum that focuses on Middle East studies. I was a political columnist for SFGate.com (San Francisco Chronicle online) from 2004-2008. I've written for the American Thinker, Frontpage Magazine, Family Security Matters, Accuracy In Media, Newsbusters, Israel National News, The Jewish Policy Center, J-The Jewish News Weekly of N. CA, Intellectual Conservative and many others. More info at CinnamonStillwell.com.

Friday, February 01, 2008

Fox News Covers Abuse of U.S. Muslim Women (And Sounds Very Familiar)

Following a recent column of my own on the rise of honor killings in the West and the veritable silence of the mainstream media (as well as Western feminists) on the subject, I was pleased to see Fox News step into the fray. Jule Kirtz' article on the abuse of American Muslim women at the hands of their own families includes the murder of the Said sisters in Texas, Aqsa Parvez in Canada, and arranged marriage escapee Fozia Sadiq. And Phyllis Chesler, who alerted me to the article, is quoted:
Author Phyllis Chesler, who writes about Islamic gender issues in the United States, believes domestic violence against Muslim-American women, not just immigrants, is covered up by an Islamic culture that treats women as second-class citizens.

"I'm not saying every Muslim family does it or that every Imam encourages it or that only Muslim men beat their wives, but Muslim men have control over their wives," she says.

"And monitoring the chastity of their women is an obsession, because if she loses it, or has a boyfriend or wants to marry who she wants to marry, this could be a death sentence."
I also found this noteworthy:
Here in America, advocacy groups say those who turn to their community for help do not always find it, in particular from some religious leaders who, although they are in the United States, still hold to cultural traditions of their homeland and do not clearly reject violence against women.

"I had another client facing severe domestic violence from her husband, and her Imam kept going to the woman and persuading her to go back" to her abuser, [lawyer, Mazna] Hussain says.
However, I couldn't help but notice the similarity of one of the paragraphs in the Fox News article to my own. Here's Kirtz:
According to a 2000 report by the United Nations Population Fund, as many as 5,000 women worldwide are murdered each year in so-called honor killings. But reported killings in Europe and North America have raised concerns that Muslim women in the West are becoming increasingly vulnerable.
And here's my column (after using the term, "so-called honor killings," in the previous paragraph):

While statistics are notoriously hard to come by due to the private nature of such crimes and the fact that very few are reported, the United Nations Population Fund approximates that as many as 5,000 women are murdered in this manner each year worldwide. Undoubtedly that's a low estimate, as reports from Turkey, Jordan, Pakistan and the Palestinian territories, among other locales, are filtering in at an alarming rate. Add to the list Germany, Sweden, other parts of Europe, the United Kingdom, Canada, and the United States, and it's clear that young Muslim women in the West are becoming increasingly vulnerable.
It could just be a coincidence (and the UN citation is quite common in articles on the subject), but one has to wonder. Especially in light of the mainstream media's proclivity for pilfering stories from the new media/blogosphere.

Having said that, I'm certainly glad to see the MSM chiming in on this important and often overlooked topic. Let's hope there's more to come.

Update (2/5): There's another article on honor killings in the Sydney Morning Herald. Robert Spencer comments further at Jihad Watch (where I found the link).

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Western Feminists Feeling the Sting of Criticism?

Like many others on the right, I have been a consistent critic of the Western feminist movement's veritable silence on the oppression of women in Muslim culture. Putting multiculturalism and leftist political preoccupations such as being anti-American and anti-Israel ahead of women's (and, indeed, human) rights, the movement is out to lunch on the great feminist calling of our time.

In a recent SFGate column on the rise of so-called honor killings in the West, I elaborated on the subject:
Fearful of giving offense or being branded with the ubiquitous "Islamophobia" label, law enforcement, journalists, social workers, government officials and, most of all, Western feminists are allowing a grave threat to women's rights go unaddressed. The misguided purveyors of multiculturalism — an ideology that holds that all cultures or religions are equivalent and none (save for the dominant, or Western, culture) worthy of condemnation — have rendered the West incapable of addressing evils where Third World cultures are to blame. But the truth is Western culture offers the greatest boon to women's rights and must therefore be vigorously defended, even if that means stepping into the realm of the politically incorrect.

Feminist groups such as the National Organization for Women, which put out an occasional press release decrying honor killings, need to make combating this practice as high a priority as defending "choice" and railing against "glass ceilings." Instead, it is a precious few who are telling it like it is when it comes to the oppression of women in Muslim culture. Ironically, many of them are on the right side of the political spectrum or, like author, blogger and activist Phyllis Chesler, have been cast out of the leftist-dominated feminist movement for speaking the uncomfortable truth.

As I have noted previously, the challenges posed by the Muslim world are the next frontier for women's rights and all those interested in advancing such goals will have to rise to the occasion. It is up to every one of us to speak out where, not only women's, but human rights are in question. Young women's lives are at stake.
And in that earlier column (which highlighted the work of true feminists such as Phyllis Chesler, Ayaan Hirsi Ali, Wafa Sultan, Irshad Manji, Brigitte Gabriel, Nonie Darwish, the late Oriana Fallaci, and, in a sense, the U.S. military), I had this to say:

...Today's true heroines are those who do battle with the gender apartheid, violence and oppression practiced against women in the Muslim world. There, women face not just phantom infringements to their civil rights and perceived slights to their sensitivities, but threats to their lives. With the call for reform in the Muslim world come the inevitable requirements of round-the-clock security.

...Restoring freedoms and providing medical care, humanitarian aid and protection, women in the military are the true feminists. So are the valiant men who work and fight alongside them.

Unfortunately, one will rarely catch a self-proclaimed feminist willing to admit as much. To do so would be to acknowledge that the United States can be a force for good, and this must be avoided at all costs, even at the expense of women's rights. What they don't seem to realize is that the war they oppose is a battle against the very forces of fascism they routinely decry.

The oppression of women in Muslim culture and the threat it poses to women's rights all over the world is clearly the next frontier for the feminist movement. Either feminists will rise to the occasion or be rendered meaningless by their hypocrisy.

Now it seems the Western feminist movement is starting to feel the heat. An open letter penned by Katha Pollitt of The Nation on behalf of "American Feminists" has been circulating throughout the Internet expressing the movement's rejection of said criticism and its alleged commitment to fighting for "women in the developing and/or Muslim world." Over 700 of the feminist movement's leading lights, including at least one Middle East studies professor (a sphere notorious for being more anti-Western than anti-sexism), have signed the letter so far.

David Horowitz, the originator of Islamo-Fascism Awareness Week (which brought speakers to U.S. college campuses to address this very topic, among others) has responded to Pollitt's open letter at Frontpage Magazine. Along with Islam scholar Robert Spencer, Horowitz seems to feel that the letter can only be evidence that all the criticism is beginning to have an effect. And I suspect as much myself. Whether or not this produces results, and not simply declarations of indignation, remains to be seen.

One thing's for sure, the crimes against Muslim women and the threat to all women's rights from the encroachments of Sharia law, demand action, not just words.

Update: The Weekly Standard addresses the Pollitt letter here (subscription required).

Update II: Michelle Malkin links to my post, and has a few suggestions of her own on the subject.

Monday, January 28, 2008

Pallywood's Latest Attractions

As noted last week, the recent "blackout" in Gaza was, in fact, the result of a Hamas-manipulated publicity stunt that the Arab and Western media (with a few exceptions, most notably the Washington Post) played along with. Coverage of the border wall breach between Gaza and Egypt has followed the same predictable pattern.

Just like the Israel/Hezbollah War fauxtography affair and the ongoing Pallywood campaign, the media has become willing dupes for Islamic terrorists.

The following links shed further light on the matter:

Honest Reporting has a comprehensive round-up of related media monstrosities titled, "The Hamas Propaganda War," that's a must-read.

Check out the Solomonia posts, "Darkness at Noon -- MSM Plays Along with Hamas Photo Staging" and "Gaza's Borders and the BBC - A tale of two maps."

Sol also points to a Weekly Standard article by Scott Johnson of Powerline on the staged photo-op of Arafat supposedly giving blood in the wake of 9/11.

And speaking of Pallywood, the originator of the term, Richard Landes, has a new short film up at Second Draft on the Gaza Beach tragedy-turned-libel.

Meanwhile, the al-Durrah affair continues unabated.

With a wealth of evidence on the Internet pointing to media collusion in slandering Israel and, ultimately, undermining its continued existence (not to mention the MSM's anti-American shenanigans) one has to wonder when and if the charade will end. Will we ever reach a time when someone in the mainstream sphere finally notes that the media emperor is wearing no clothes?

In the meantime, through the looking glass we go...

Update: Martin Kramer demolishes a ludicrous Boston Globe op-ed by Harvard Middle East studies "senior research scholar" Sara Roy (who I wrote about for Campus Watch last year) and Eyad al-Sarraj, founder of the Gaza Community Mental Health Program (an oxymoron if there ever was one), alleging Gazan starvation at the cruel hands of Israel. As he notes, Gaza is, in fact, "buried in flour." My colleague Winfield Myers chimes in on the subject at Democracy Project.