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- Saudi Security forces say they detained 17 people this week who belonged to three cells that had ties with IS
- Hundreds of people with alleged ties ti IS have been arrested since IS declared war on the Kingdom in 2014
- Besides undermining the Kingdom through violence, IS also wants to undercut the belief system of the monarch known as Wahhabism
27 Sept, 2016: Saudi Arabia is fighting a growing threat from the Islamic State that is both breeding homegrown terrorists and using the kingdom’s conservative religious teachings to undermine the monarchy.
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Saudi security forces say they detained 17 people this week who belonged to three cells that had ties with IS. The government said the suspects were reportedly planning four major attacks on security and economic targets in the country, according to the state-run Saudi Press Agency.
Hundreds of people with alleged ties to IS have been arrested since IS declared war on the kingdom in 2014. Saudi officials said IS-affiliated terror cells carried out several deadly shootings and bombings, many of them targeting security forces and Shi’ite mosques.
IS “presents a very serious threat, not just to Europe and the United States … but inside of Saudi Arabia,” John Brennan, the director of the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency, said recently.
For Saudi Arabia, battling IS presents a double challenge. Besides undermining the kingdom through violence, IS also wants to undercut the belief system of the monarch known as Wahhabism.
Saudi Arabia is the birthplace of Wahhabism, an austere Sunni doctrine credited with inspiring the radical ideology of IS. The Islamic State group accuses the Saudi monarchy of using Wahhabism to legitimize its rule, particularly with its custodianship of Mecca and Medina, Islam’s holiest sites. Saudi groups linked to the conservative theology have been accused of sending funds to help IS expand abroad.
“IS has two primary objectives in Saudi Arabia,” said Abdullah Ghawdi, a journalist at the Saudi Okaz newspaper in Riyadh. “One is to undermine the Saudi security forces and the other one is to target religious scholars.”
In July, before the start of the pilgrimage season, IS-linked militants staged a suicide attack in Mecca and Medina, killing several security officers. IS has also been behind attacks on mosques belonging to the Shi’ite minority in the eastern part of the country.
“Salafi jihadism was originated in Saudi Arabia,” said F. Gregory Gause III, a professor of international affairs at Texas A&M University who monitors developments in the kingdom. “But the Saudi government says that the ideology [IS] has embraced is deviant.”
IS’s campaign against Saudi interests has increased as the kingdom has become more involved in the U.S.-led coalition fighting IS in Syria and Iraq. Saudi Arabia is a major hub for intelligence-gathering against IS.
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And IS also has become active in neighboring Yemen, claiming responsibility for killing dozens in August in a suicide bombing. Saudi Arabia and its allies have intervened with airstrikes and military power in the Yemen conflict in support of the exiled Yemeni government.
Directed from top command
Unlike the majority of lone wolf attacks carried out by IS followers in the West, IS attacks in Saudi Arabia have been engineered from the top IS command in Syria and Iraq, analysts say.
“Most of the terror attacks in the kingdoms and the foiled ones have had direct ties [with militants] in Syria and Iraq,” said Abdulaziz Sager, who heads the Gulf Research Center, a Saudi think tank.
IS is finding fertile recruiting ground among jihadists who fought for radical Islamist causes abroad, analysts say.
The government has sponsored a rehabilitation program to help reform jihadists. Many of them have been able to return to society. But the rise of IS led some to radicalize again, Ghawadi said.
“Many have joined IS because it was easy to travel to Turkey and cross the border to Syria,” he said. “They have maintained contacts with other radicals back home.”
Saudi officials have taken steps to limit IS’s influence by initiating reforms in the ultrareligious Saudi education system to remove materials from textbooks that could be used by recruiters to radicalize students.
“Our curriculum is currently clear of any texts that might be misunderstood and misused by citizens,” said Sadaqa Fadel, a member of the Saudi parliament, known as the Shura Council.
The government also has passed several anti-terror laws “that are more effective in detecting terror cells and suspects,” Fadel said.
The 2016 U.S. State Department report on religious freedom credited Saudi Arabia with “making revisions to remove intolerant passages from textbooks and curriculum.” However, the report said the Saudi government still “remains uniquely repressive in the extent to which it restricts the public expression of any religion other than Islam.”
Saudi Arabia prohibits any non-Muslim public places of worship, and the report said “a 2014 law classifying blasphemy and advocating atheism as terrorism has been used to prosecute human rights defenders and others.”
Still, analysts say Saudi Arabia is likely to be targeted by more IS attacks, though IS’s impact is ultimately limited.
IS “poses a threat to Saudi Arabia’s stability,” Saudi watcher Gause said. “But it can’t threaten to overthrow the monarchy.” -VOA
-by Aakash Mandyal of NewsGram. Twitter: @Aakashsen6
"In India, to be born as a man is a crime, to question a woman is an atrocious crime, and this all because of those women who keep suppressing men in the name of feminism."
Feminism, a worldwide movement that started to establish, define and defend equal rights for women in all sections- economically, politically, and socially. India, being a patriarchal society gives a gender advantage to the men in the society thus, Indian feminists sought to fight against the culture-specific issue for women in India. Feminism itself is nothing but a simple movement that pursues equal rights for women (including transwomen) and against misogyny both external and internal. It states nowhere that women should get more wages than men, that women deserve more respect than men, that's pseudo-feminism.
Pseudo feminists state that women deserve more respect and rights, any other gender deserves no respect. They feel that women should be the ones ruling the world and at higher positions. When feminism takes a turn for extremities it becomes pseudo-feminism and people who label themselves as feminists will bash anyone who speaks against even the wrongdoings of a woman. They'll bash women who're wife and sisters for not speaking up and support any women criticizing political leaders even if it's completely irrational. This is where hypocrisy and pseudo-feminism merge with each other.
They take advantage of the rights given to women to protect themselves to threaten other genders. The rights given to women are supposed to make them feel reassured that they can reach out to the judiciary if their rights are being hampered not to threaten to make the victim sound like the culprit.
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Indian Feminist Movement has made significant progress however, even in the modern world women are still unsafe and are discriminated against when it comes to getting a job, land ownership, and access to education. While filling the official papers it is still asked "Wife of /Daughter of:….."
People in India still continue the practice of sex-selective abortion, abandoning the girl child, not letting girl child study instead they should learn household chores, they are seen as a burden to the family. Such injustices make feminism such an important movement, gender equality is worth fighting for to create a safe environment for women. Feminists over the years have been criticized for focusing on the rights of privileged women and not giving equal representation to poorer and lower caste women, which has led to separate caste-specific feminist organizations and movements.
Some notable milestones in the Feminist Movement
- Raja Ram Mohan Roy campaigned against Sati Pratha (practice in which a widow sacrificed herself by sitting atop her deceased husband's funeral pyre) and child marriage
- Savitribai Phule started the first school for girls at Bhidewada in Pune city in 1848.
- In 1972, SEWA, the biggest trade union for women was set up by Ela Bhatt for women working in the informal sector.
- The Chipko Movement was launched and led by women in 1973.
- #MeToo movement against sexual harassment and abuse was started in 2006 and revived in the year 2015.
People in India still continue the practice of sex-selective abortion, abandoning the girl child, not letting girl child study instead they should learn household chores, they are seen as a burden to the family.Unsplash
Feminism is often misunderstood as pseudo-feminism and hence, becomes the target for public hatred and is accused of wronging other genders under the façade of feminism. It is misunderstood by Indians as female domination instead of gender equality. Indian society and Indian feminists believe that only men are perpetrators of a heinous crime like rape and they refuse to even recognize the men who say they were raped and it's the toxic masculinity in the society that believes how can a woman rape a man? Reality is different from what we believe, women can be the perpetrator too, women threaten to file a case of domestic violence, or sexual assault against innocent people just to fulfill their ego.
Thankfully feminism and pseudo feminism are two separate concepts and feminism is just about equality and not judgment. Indian society and feminists actually need to understand the difference between the two and stop tarnishing the Feminist Movement as a whole.
Keywords: Feminism, World, India, Pseudo-Feminism, Gender
Kerala is a land of many good things. It has an abundance of nature, culture, art, and food. It is also a place of legend and myth, and is known for its popular folklore, the legend of Yakshi. This is not a popular tale outside the state, but it is common knowledge for travellers, especially those who fare through forests at night.
The legend of the yakshi is believed to be India's equivalent of the Romanian Dracula, except of course, the Yakshi is a female. Many Malayalis believe that the Yakshi wears a white saree and had long hair. She has a particular fragrance, which is believed to be the fragrance of the Indian devil-tree flowers. She seduces travellers with her beauty, and kills them brutally.
Yakshi idol in Veroor, Sri Dharamashastha temple Image source: wikimedia commons
The Yakshi is believed to live in a palm tree which can appear like a palace. Victims are taken here before they are killed. Travellers on highways are often advised not to stop near heavily forested areas, or speak to anyone who closely resembles a Yakshi. Some believe she can change form, while other hold to the belief that she doesn't. after securing her victim, the only trace left behind is body parts like hair, nails, and teeth.
They say, like other ghosts, a Yakshi's feet will not touch the ground. This is something to look out for. Mysterious deaths have been reported across the rural areas in Kerala, and all these have been attributed to the legend.
Keywords: Legends, Yakshi, Urban legend, Ghost, Kerala, Myth, Vampire
The LGBTQ+ acronym stands for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer, and others. In India LGBTQ+ community also include a specific social group, part religious cult, and part caste: the Hijras. They are culturally defined either as "neither men nor women" or as men who become women by adopting women's dress and behavior. Section 377 of the India Penal code that criminalized all sexual acts "against the order of nature" i.e. engaging in oral sex or anal sex along with other homosexual activities were against the law, ripping homosexual people off of their basic human rights. Thus, the Indian Supreme Court ruled a portion of Section 377 unconstitutional on 6th September 2018.
But the question is, "was India always against homosexuality"? Has the concept of homosexuality being unnatural existed forever? No, in Indian history and Hinduism homosexuality has never been an offense, in fact in several instances it has been depicted how people embraced their identity, be it sexual identity or gender identity. Section 377 was brought to India by the British in 1862, while India was colonized. Even after the Independence, it was only in 2018 that the Supreme Court ruled it as irrational and illogical.
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Homosexuality in Ancient India
When Supreme Court decriminalized homosexuality in India, there was an uproar about it being a western ideology and liberalism. But in reality, homosexuality has existed since the time of the Vedas. The Gay and Lesbian Vaishnava Association (GALVA) researched and discovered that it was around 3102 B.C. (during the Vedic Age) that homosexuality or non-normative sexual identity was recognized as "Tritiya Prakriti", or the third nature. Ancient India not only made mentions of homosexuality but accepted it as well.
Hinduism is the most vastly followed religion in India. Hinduism does not explicitly mention homosexuality however it does contain a homosexual theme and characters in its text. There have been various instances in our scriptures and texts that have introduced us to LGBT+ characters such as the androgynous form of Shiva and Parvati Ardhanariswara meaning "the half-female lord". One of the most popular and ancient texts on sexuality, eroticism, and emotional fulfillment of life, "Kamasutra" has a complete chapter dedicated to homosexuality and homosexual sex. Numerous Hindu sculptures and temples have statues depicting homosexual activities.
Numerous Hindu sculptures and temples have statues depicting homosexual activities. Facebook
Our Mughals were Queer
Mughals are often seen under the light of cruelty, rigid ethics, nobility, and polygamy. Simultaneously, Mughals are also the ones credited for the emergence of Sufism, abolished jizya tax, love beyond religion, classes, and gender.
In the Baburnama written in memoirs of our very first Mughal ruler Muhammad Babur, several instances documented Babur's infatuation and affection towards a teenage boy named Baburi. We also have multiple Persian couplets as evidence of Babur's affection for Baburi. Mughals engaged in homosexuality and pederasty, and they believed that later was a form of "pure love".
But as time passed homosexuality was suppressed more and more though people practiced it in secret if revealed they were punished. According to the Fatwa-e-Alamgiri Sharia-based text of the Mughal Empire, there is a common set of punishments for homosexuality, which could include 50 lashes for a slave, 100 for a free infidel, or death by stoning for a Muslim.
British Raj and Independence of India
In 1862, Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code that criminalized homosexual sex came into force. Even after Independence in 1947, the section remained a part of the Indian Constitution. There were protests all over the country to give people of the LGBT+ community basic human rights but it was not until 2018 that The Supreme Court of India ruled the portion of Section 377 has unconstitutional and struck it off. One judge said the landmark decision would "pave the way for a better future.". With Section 377 gone are LGBT+ people allowed to fall in love freely? No, people are still afraid to love because of the stigma in our society when it comes to homosexuality; they are seen as lesser humans.
ALSO READ: Significant Support for Rights for LGBTQ+
Although the Supreme Court has decriminalized homosexual activities, same-sex marriage remains illegal in the country. Homophobia is still prevalent in India, and homosexual children would rather commit suicide than come out to society with their true identity, that's how harsh of a world we live in. Lacking support from family, society, or police, many gay rape victims do not report the crimes. In 1977, writer and Indian mathematician Shakuntla Devi published "The World of Homosexuals". It was the first study in the Indian context; the book contains interviews with homosexual men set in the years of Emergency. She wrote, "rather than pretending that homosexuals don't exist it is time we face the facts squarely in the eye and find room for homosexual people." We've had small victories in our fight against homophobia and getting LGBT+ community the rights they deserve as humans, but we still have a long and exhausting fight ahead of us.