Saturday, May 5, 2007

Celebrating Other Cultures

The idea, popular during the last thirty years of the twentieth century, that no culture is superior to any other, just different, has become increasingly implausible in light of our growing familiarity with the Middle-east. Indeed, many of those who live in the region make it hard for us to think that large numbers of these people are anything but savages:

A 17-year-old girl has been stoned to death in Iraq because she loved a teenage boy of the wrong religion.

As a horrifying video of the stoning went out on the Internet, the British arm of Amnesty International condemned the death of Du'a Khalil Aswad as "an abhorrent murder" and demanded that her killers be brought to justice.

Reports from Iraq said a local security force witnessed the incident, but did nothing to try to stop it. Now her boyfriend is in hiding in fear for his life.

Miss Aswad, a member of a minority Kurdish religious group called Yezidi, was condemned to death as an "honour killing" by other men in her family and hardline religious leaders because of her relationship with the Sunni Muslim boy.

They said she had shamed herself and her family when she failed to return home one night. Some reports suggested she had converted to Islam to be closer to her boyfriend.

Miss Aswad had taken shelter in the house of a Yezidi tribal leader in Bashika, a predominantly Kurdish town near the northern capital, Mosul.

A large crowd watched as eight or nine men stormed the house and dragged Miss Aswad into the street. There they hurled stones at her for half an hour until she was dead.

Go here for more on this story. I didn't bother searching for the video. The pictures at the link are disturbing enough.

These "honor killings" are unfortunately not aberrations in the Middle-east. They are a widely accepted practice among the various ethnic and religious groups in the region and should give pause to anyone who still believes we should "celebrate" multi-cultural diversity. It should also make each of us thankful that we were born here and not in some part of the world where women are held in such contempt that they could be stoned to death for loving a boy of a different religion.


The French Election

An interesting election is brewing in France for the office of the president. Voting for the two candidates, socialist Segolene Royal and her opponent, conservative Nicolas Sarkozy, will take place Sunday. Sarkozy, who is more favorably disposed to the United States than any French president since WWII, has a commanding lead and Royal has resorted to the time-honored tactic of warning that if her opponent wins there will be blood in the streets.

Scaring the bejabbers out of the voters may help her, but I suspect that a lot of French citizens think there's already blood in the streets, at least in the Muslim suburbs, and that the socialists who've been running France haven't done much to stop it. If so, Royal's prediction may actually help Sarkozy more than hurt him.

See this article for a good summary of where matters stand on the eve of an election that has important implications for future support of American foreign policy.