Monday, May 30, 2016

Sweden and the confluence of of feminism and Islam

Sweden stirs debate with women-only swimming, in nod to Muslims

As Muslims become a larger part of Swedish society, some municipal pools are offering women-only swimming to accommodate the new arrivals. But while well intended, the new policy is bumping up against Swedish ideals of equality.

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On the face of it, the decision to offer special women's swimming hours at the Hyllie sports center, a municipal swimming pool in the southern Swedish city of Malmö, should not be contentious.
Indeed, Malmö is not alone. According to a survey by the Swedish TV channel TV4, 13 of Sweden's 100 largest municipalities have begun offering separate swimming hours for men and women. “Our facilities are used by 40 percent women and 60 percent men,” Johan Hermansson, the head of Malmö's recreations department, told TV4. “Our ambition is for them to be used equally by girls and boys, men and women.”
But the trend is not just about achieving 50-50 visitor figures. For decades, Swedish city swimming pools have operated mixed-gender pools, but by adding women-only hours, officials are hoping to accommodate the country's growing Muslim population.
And that is raising a much larger issue for Sweden. Should the native population adjust to immigrant groups' different lifestyles by accommodating women-only swimming and the like, thus providing access to Muslim newcomers who would otherwise not feel comfortable in gender-equal conditions? Or does the implementation of such segregation, however well intended, ultimately undermine the country's hard-earned traditions of gender equality.
Many Swedes are no longer sure. “During the past several years, we've had several Muslim women come and swim,” says Stockholm resident Carolina Johansson, who has gone to women's-only sessions at a local swimming pool for the past 20 years. “But gender-separated swimming doesn't feel like a positive development.”

To integrate or to segregate?

The separate swimming hours have cause an enormous debate in Sweden, with many calling the move regressive and a ghettoization of women, while others laud it as a sensible inclusion of the country's increasingly diverse population. This month Sweden's democracy minister, Alice Bah Kuhnke, told Swedish TV that gender-segregated swimming hours – as the system is often referred to – are problematic and called mixed-gender swimming “a victory after many years and generations of gender-equality struggle.”
In Malmö, Iva Parizkova Ryggeståhl and her fellow members of the local International Women's Association have spent a great deal of time talking about gender-separated swimming. At first, they weren't sure how to feel about it, but now they've decided they're opposed to it.
“Men who are not comfortable being in the same swimming pool as women should not be there,” Ms. Parizkova Ryggeståhl argues. “And we women shouldn't care whether men are looking at us in the swimming pool or not, and whether they get jealous or not.”
By contrast, supporters of gender-separated swimming hours maintain that without the separation Muslim women would never get a chance to swim. And Feministiskt Initiativ, Sweden's feminist party, maintains that women-only swimming benefit women in general.
“It's not just Muslim women who want women-only swimming hours; it's women from many different backgrounds,” argues Toktam Jahangiry, Feministiskt Initiativ's sexual policy spokeswoman. “For example, many women who have had a mastectomy don't feel comfortable being seen by men in the swimming pool.”
Feministiskt Initiativ also suggests that women-only swimming hours could serve a social purpose beyond health and exercise. “Swimming pools are a meeting place for women where they feel comfortable talking to one another, and women-only swimming hours make it an even better meeting point,” says Ms. Jahangiry. “A woman who is being beaten by her husband won't want other men to see her bruises in the swimming pool. But she will feel comfortable talking to other women about it there.”
Qaali Shire, a Muslim Somali mother of three, who lives in Malmö and was recently granted asylum, suggests something similar. “Women's swimming hours are very good because there are no private swimming pools for women,” she says. “Without separate pools or swimming hours, women would go to the pool with their husbands and kids and just sit because they don't feel comfortable swimming in front of men.”
Gender-separated swimming hours are good for husbands, too, Ms. Shire adds, because they don't have to feel uncomfortable over their wives swimming in front of other men. “Even if you swim in your pajamas, your husband won't like it,” she explains.

Prioritizing equalities

There's also the issue of whether women's swimming hours represents discrimination against men, as men are banned from women's swimming hours but women can swim when they like. The government's national discrimination ombudsman is now investigating whether women's swimming hours discriminate against men.
The Greens, who govern in a coalition with the Social Democrats and consider themselves a feminist party, have been particularly affected by gender debate.
Though they have not expressed an official opinion on women's swimming hours, they had nominated Yasri Khan – a young Muslim man – for their executive committee despite knowing of his faith-based refusal to shake hands with women. The furor over the handshaking incident led him to resign. Knowledge Minister Aida Hazialic, herself a Muslim, declared herself upset over his handshake refusal and pointed out that Sweden “is a country where we treat men and women the same way.”
But at least at the Hyllie sports center in Malmö, segregated policies still have appeal. On a recent afternoon in Malmö, Shire was in high spirits after having visited the women's swimming hour – her sixth time swimming at the pool's women's session. “The ladies' session is always jammed,” she noted.
And, in a further twist to Sweden's integration debate, she pointed out an important feature of the female sessions. “Because everyone's head is uncovered, you don't know who is Muslim and who is not.”

Flesh eating disease sweeps mideast and guess where it heading next. Uncontrolled immigration is liberal suicide pact.

Cutaneous leishmaniasis: Disfiguring tropical disease sweeps across Middle East 

Cutaneous leishmaniasis, a disease transmitted through sand flies causes horrible open sores as well as disfiguring skinlesions

A disfiguring tropical disease is sweeping across the Middle East as a combination of heavy conflict and a breakdown of health care facilities in Isis-occupied areas leaves swathes of people vulnerable to the illness.
Cutaneous leishmaniasis is caused by a parasite in the blood stream transmitted through sand fly bites. The disease can result in horrible open sores as well as disfiguring skin lesions, nodules or papules.
Leishmaniasis has been endemic in Syria for centuries and was once commonly known as the “Aleppo evil”. However, as Syria’s civil war continues the resulting refugee crisis has triggered a catastrophic outbreak of the disease.
Children suffering from Cutaneous Leishmaniasis, a disfiguring and disabling skin disease (Getty Images )
Research published on Thursday in the scientific journal PLOS has found the disease is now affecting hundreds of thousands of people living in refugee camps or trapped in conflict zones. A similar situation may also be unfolding in eastern Libya and Yemen.
“We're seeing lots of diseases, including leishmaniasis in these conflict zones and we need to ring-fence them or risk another situation like Ebola out of the conflict zones in West Africa in 2014,” Peter Hotez, dean of the US National School of Tropical Medicine, US Science Envoy to the Middle East, and lead author of the PLOS research told the Digital Journal.
A woman receives treatment for a tropical skin disease (Getty Images )
Syria’s healthcare system has been devastated by years of conflict.In 2015 it was reported that more than half of the public hospitals in the country – previously a regional leader in healthcare – were closed or only partially functioning, leaving some patients forced to travel up to 100 miles to the nearest hospital.
In Syria, the number of leishmaniasis cases reported to the Ministry of Health doubled from 23,000 before the start of the civil war in 2011 to 41,000 in 2013, according to the PLOS research.
Neighbouring countries, which have received millions of refugees are also reporting many leishmaniasis cases. In Lebanon, cases rose to 1,033 in 2013 from six in the previous 12 years. Hundreds of cases have also been reported in Turkey and Jordan. 
According to scientists, eastern Libya has also reported increasing numbers of leishmaniasis. In Yemen, an estimated 10,000 new cases are reported every year. With Yeminis migrating to Saudi Arabia, concerns have been raised the disease may spreadfurther.
Dr Waleed Al-Salem, of the Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine, told MailOnline: “It's a very bad situation. The disease has spread dramatically in Syria, but also into countries like Iraq, Lebanon, Turkey and even into southern Europe with refugees coming in.
“There are thousands of cases in the region but it is still underestimated because no one can count the exact number of people affected.
“When people are bitten by sand flies - which are tiny and smaller than a mosquito - it can take anything between two to six months to have the infection.

UN seeks Syria aid access as civilians risk starvation
“Someone might have picked it up in Syria but then they may have fled into Lebanon or Turkey, or even into Europe as they seek refuge.
“Prior to the outbreak of war there was good control of diseases, parasites and sand flies but when the conflict started no one cared, conditions worsened and the health system broke down, which has created an ideal environment for disease outbreaks.”
Cutaneous leishmaniasis is one of 17 tropical diseases categorized by 

WHO as “neglected”. The organisation says greater awareness of the disease, better monitoring, training for clinicians and vector control could go some way to halting the epidemic. 

    Chicago: It's so much easier to blame inanimate objects then a protected class of people.

    As the crosses were white can we call it a hate crime.

    Man Arrested for Damaging Memorial Day Display – Police Found Pieces of Memorial Crosses in His Tires

    Anthony Burrus was arrested on Sunday for driving through and damaging a Memorial Day display in Henderson, Kentucky.
    anthony burrus
    Pieces of a cross and stake to hold the cross were found embedded in the tires.
    KTLA reported:
    A man suspected of driving through a military display and destroying crosses that had been placed for a Memorial Day ceremony in a Kentucky park was arrested this weekend, police announced.
    Anthony Burrus, 27, was taken into custody Saturday on suspicion of first-degree criminal mischief and leaving the scene of an accident, the Henderson Police Department said in Facebook post. The arrest came hours after the incident.
    Burrus is accused of driving through the Memorial Day display, destroying 20 crosses and damaging another 160, the post stated.
    His 1997 Ford Thunderbird was found abandoned at a McDonald’s, according to the post. Pieces of crosses and stakes were found embedded in the tires.
    The Henderson community expressed outrage over the incident, which occurred at a Memorial Day tradition that has been taking place for decades.
    “It’s disturbing, that somebody just has no respect,” said Tom Davis, whose father started the annual ceremony.

    Vietnamese Communist Leader Says US Anti-War Activists Helped Their Victory. Once Communist tyrants take over the left has no interest in freedom.

    Vietnamese Communist Leader Says US Anti-War Activists Helped Their Victory

    In the weeks leading up to Memorial Day and President Barack Obama’s scheduled trip to Vietnam, a prominent Vietcong communist leader privately thanked American anti-war activists for helping defeat the U.S.-allied government in Vietnam in the 1970s, saying protest demonstrations throughout the United States were “extremely important in contributing to Vietnam’s victory.”
    For Vietnamese guerrilla leader Madam Nguyen Thi Binh, who sent the private letter from Hanoi dated April 20, “victory” meant the communist takeover of South Vietnam. The letter addressed veteran American anti-war activists who gathered in Washington, D.C., at a May 3 reunion of radical “May Day” anti-war leaders.
    The Daily Caller News Foundation obtained a copy of the letter at the meeting.
    Binh, now age 90, originally served as the highest ranking Vietnamese delegate to the Paris Peace Talks that imposed a ceasefire in the country in 1973.
    The “Vietcong” was a ragtag group of communist guerrillas who were allied with the official communist government in North Vietnam. The country was cut in two in 1954, with the south seeking to build a democratic state allied to the West.
    Binh’s frank admission highlights a secret side of the communist’s effective lobbying influence in the United States. Rather than live in the southern part of the country, which for decades she represented as a diplomat, it appears after the war Binh was living in Hanoi, the original capital of North Vietnam.
    In her letter, she extolled the American anti-war movement, saying it was “a key component” that advanced the communist takeover of South Vietnam.
    “The Vietnamese people have great appreciation for the peace and antiwar movements in the United States and view those movements’ contribution as important in shortening the war,” she wrote and which was read to an assembled group of “May Day” anti-war activists in Washington, D.C.
    The “May Day tribe” consisted of thousands of radical anti-war protesters bent on shutting down Washington, D.C., in May 1971 through three days of massive civil disobedience. More than 12,000 protesters were arrested, for filling the streets to block feds from getting to work.
    The Nixon administration was so fearful of violence against federal employees, it deployed 5,000 paratroopers from the 82nd Airborne Division and thousands more from the Marine Corps barracks to protect the 14th Street Bridge, a major thoroughfare into the nation’s capital from Virginia.
    The protesters rallying cry was, “if the government won’t stop the war, we’ll stop the government.”
    The war temporarily ended in 1973 when the Paris Peace Treaty was signed that imposed a ceasefire on all parties.
    That ceasefire was abruptly broken in 1975, however, when the North Vietnamese forces launched a surprise “Spring Offensive.”
    Leading the offensive were hundreds of T-54 and T-55 heavy Russian tanks that left secret sanctuaries in neighboring Cambodia and flooded into South Vietnam. Regular North Vietnamese troops spearheaded the offensive, along with guerrillas tied to the Vietcong, which also called themselves the National Liberation Front of Vietnam.
    By the time the Russian tanks were about to drive into Saigon, a liberal Congress filled with anti-war lawmakers already had hamstrung their South Vietnamese allies. Congress cut military aid to Saigon by 50 percent and handcuffed the South Vietnamese military facing the communist onslaught by barring any U.S. air support or other meaningful military assistance to the government.
    The offensive was relatively quick, trapping hundreds of thousands of pro-American Vietnamese troops and millions of civilians who had trusted Washington and openly supported the United States.
    The lasting images of those dark, chaotic days were captured by American news networks, which showed the panic in the capital city.
    Harrowing pictures depicted U.S. helicopters frantically trying to ferry thousands of panic-stricken Vietnamese citizens and U.S. officials off the roof of the American Embassy. The videos depicted Vietnamese clinging from helicopters in a desperate effort to escape the onrushing communist army.
    The defeat ultimately triggered an international humanitarian crisis where at least 800,000 Vietnamese “boat people” fled their communist conquerors. Many bravely undertook perilous journeys in small boats across the Gulf of Thailand to escape the new communist warlords. An unknown number of refugees drowned in the exodus.
    After the communists defeated the South Vietnamese army, more than 1 million South Vietnamese citizens who had supported the United States were left behind and imprisoned in “re-education camps.” About 100,000 faced summary execution by the communist victors.
    Bill Cowan, who was a Purple Heart Marine platoon leader in Vietnam, told TheDCNF that U.S. troops were demoralized when the U.S. media only highlighted anti-war protesters and not the heroism of many of the Vietnamese who were trying to keep their country free.
    “The media fueled the anti-war movement, empowering the protestors, the North Vietnamese, and the Vietcong,” he told TheDCNF.
    “It was rare to have a ‘good news’ story about what was happening there,” Cowan said.
    “I recall a reporter coming to interview me at the village I was living at and apologizing after she was done by saying, ‘You know, this story will probably never see the light of day. My editors will quash it because it has too many good things in here about what you guys are doing.’” Cowan told TheDCNF.
    Fred Rustmann, a former Central Intelligence Agency officer who was deployed in Vietnam for two years and later assigned to cover the Paris Peace Talks where Binh was the chief Vietcong delegate, called her “a great propagandist.”
    “She was really the propaganda arm of the Vietcong. And she was very effective. She was living in a villa in Paris in the southern suburbs, which was a very communist, socialist neighborhood,” Rustmann told TheDCNF in an interview. He said ironically Binh spent more time in Paris than in Vietnam.
    In Paris, “she was regularly interviewing with leftist news organization. She had these leftist kids and try to influence them. I believe she met several times with Jane Fonda.”
    Binh actually recalled in her latest letter many meetings she had with American anti-war activists. She wrote, “The first time I met representatives of the American anti-war movement was at a week-long conference held in Bratislava in 1967, with the attendees of about forty Americans.”
    “Before parting, we were shaking hands, holding hands,” she recalled in her letter, adding, “During the war years, I also met many other Americans in different places organized by U.S. citizen groups opposed to the war.”
    Obama visited Vietnam last week for a three-day trip, and hailed its communist leadership and downplayed the human rights problems that persist.
    Hours before Air Force One touched down, Vietnam had scheduled national “elections” for its one-party National Assembly. Reminiscent of previous old communist regimes from the Soviet Union days, the state-run press reported that 98.77 percent of the public “voted” in the election.
    Only one sentence in Obama’s main speech to the Vietnamese public made any reference to human rights problems in the country.
    Vietnamese government officials also blocked dissidents from meeting with Obama or his advisers when the American delegation arrived in Ho Chi Minh City, formerly Saigon. White House Deputy National Security Adviser Ben Rhodes said it shows the meeting was “the source of significant discomfort” for Vietnam’s rulers.
    The White House never rescheduled the meeting, however, and Rhodes claimed the U.S. government was going to follow up to ensure the activists are not being punished.
    During the president’s visit, he lifted an arms embargo on Vietnam to allow the sale of modern weapons to the country. He did not tie the arms sales to any improvement in human rights.