Today marks a bittersweet day.
10th of December, 1980, at the age of 13, I arrived in Canada to start my new life!
While in the refugee camp, I did a little bit of looking after some sheep on a hobby farm. Through an unbelievable coincidence, the owner of the farm had a son who had the male version of my name – and who was born on the very same day I was (day and year). SO, he took a bit of a shine to me. When I told him we got into Canada and would be leaving, he gave me parting gift – some Canadian cash!
Aside: he would occasionally give me presents of Austrian money for looking after his sheep and for helping his octagenarian mother (who was afraid of strangers, especially the emigrants, but seemed to suffer me OK) with whatever she needed – something I was happy to do, presents or not, as it gave me things to do…the boredom of endless waiting to learn your future can be deadly! From this money, I was able to save up enough to buy winter boots for myself and my parents: something I was very, very proud of!
The journey was long and tiring – we were collected from the hostels in the foothills of the Alps where emigrant families had been stationed starting shortly after midnight and did not get into the main camp of Traiskirchen, just outside of Vienna, until well into the afternoon. (No, we were not hungry – we had boxed meals with us, just tired and excited.)
There, we were split up into empty beds in many large rooms of 30-or-so people. But, the residents whose numbers we were supplementing made it clear that we were disrupting their routine and were not welcome. It was also there that we were told the weight restrictions on our luggage, so we had to get rid of some of the few things we had carefully chosen to bring along to help us tart our new life. I had to give up the only book I had managed to hold on to till then (by Karl May) – perhaps this explains why now I collect books rather obsessively.
At 5 am or so the next morning, we got up and boarded the buses for the airport. It was very exciting! As I knew I had to leave the book behind, and since there were no lights out in my room, and since I was very, very excited, I calmed myself down by re-reading the book during that night. Well, most of it, anyway. It was a calming mechanism and saying good by to a book that had gotten me through difficult times in the past. (I credit this book with having made me so curious about Egyptian culture.)
Once at the airport, we saw the airplane on the tarmac. It stood there, all by itself, with stairs at the front, middle and back. When, after a few hours, the doors opened, releasing us emigrants onto the tarmac, people started sprinting towards that airplane!
And I started sprinting towards freedom with the rest of them!!!
I got in and saved 3 seats for me and my parents, we got settled, and that is all I remember of the flight. I have a vague recollection of my parents talking to some of the other people, but, after 2 nights of not sleeping, now that I was safely away from Europe, I relaxed and fell into a deep sleep.
My dad woke me up as we were descending into Montreal. Disoriented by irregular sleep and time-zone-change, I had no idea what time of day or night it was – I just saw that it was dark outside. Once we landed, an announcement went out over the airplane that people who are to go to Toronto or Vancouver were to stay put, and only those going to Montreal and Ottawa are to de-plane.
It turned out that there were two families going to Montreal – and that we were the only family going to Ottawa! A full 737 – and everyone but our 3 families was going to Toronto or Vancouver. In retrospect, it was rather nice of them to have stopped in Montreal instead of making us go to Toronto and then backtrack.
Once on the ground, we were no longer emigrants – now we were immigrants! Oh, what a glorious difference!
At immigration at the Mirabel airport, the two families going to Montreal were me by their immigration officer. However, nobody knew anything about us. The kindly lady there offered to call the Ottawa office, and we waited a couple hours for a response. It turned out that they forgot about us. They asked if we had any money. My dad had some German Marks and my mom had some Austrian Shillings, so we said yes. They told us to use the money to buy a bus ticket to Ottawa and, by the time we got there, someone would be there at the bus station to pick us up.
We went to buy the bus ticket – the last bus for the night was leaving in 20 minutes, but they would only accept Canadian currency.
We went to the foreign exchange kiosk to get some Canadian money for the Marks or Shillings, but it was closed. A security guard told us we could try the one at the other end of the airport. So, suitcase and carry-on each (we did not know the trollies were OK to use for everyone), we rushed to the other side of the of the airport to get our money exchanged. That kiosk was also closed…and these were the only two currency exchange kiosks at the airport.
My parents were beginning to panic!!!
This is when I pulled my going-away present out and wondered if it would be enough! My parents were reluctant to use my money, but saw no other way out. It was just enough – we only got about $2.00 back in change.
So, off we were to Ottawa!
Everything looked so exotic and strange and, well, ‘wild west’! The houses did not even have stucco on the outside, exposed bricks showing! I’d never seen anything so exotic! In retrospect, it seems to me that some of the other passengers found my excitement, well, amusing…
When we finally pulled into the bus station in downtown Ottawa, it was well past 11 pm. A guy in a fancy-looking coat and an expensive scarf picked us up in his car, drove us to the Bytown Hotel in downtown Ottawa, booked us in on his personal credit card, gave us breakfast vouchers, and told us to report to the immigration office at 300 Laurier Street the next day.
Thus ended my first day in Canada!
This memory is sweet – but I cannot remember it without noting that 10th of December also marks the death of Aqsa Parvez in 2007.
Here was another young woman who, like I once was, had been filled with promise, with hopes of living the full life of a Canadian woman! Yet, she had the misfortune to come from a different immigrant background than I. My parents helped me become a true Canadian. Hers killed her for daring to try…
Aqsa Parvez – as long as I live, I will mourn you!
There’s been so much depressing stuff happening lately….just take a breath and relax with Thunderf00t!
Yes! Been waiting for this:
‘Valve, creator of the Steam gaming platform and a video game studio and publisher in its own right, is the latest company to join the Linux Foundation – a nonprofit organization tasked with nurturing and advocating the open-source operating system.
The move isn’t much of a surprise, given that Valve adopted Linux for its recently unveiled Steam OS, an operating system that will be used for a new range of third-party video game consoles called ‘Steam Machines‘ expected from mid-2014. Valve co-founder and CEO Gabe Newell described the operating system and open source movement as “the future of gaming” at LinuxCon a couple of months ago, following the release of an official Linux client for the Steam platform in February.’
It is interesting that the open letter to Mr. Hamilton should have hit my mailbox so close to the time I got the newsletter for One Law for All, as they both discuss the burqa/nikab and the social attitudes this promotes.
Personally, I regard both the burqa/nikab and the hijab (and all its variations) as a symbol of supremacism, in much the way the KKK hood is.
Under Sharia, slave women are not permitted to wear them: it is thus, in no uncertain terms, worn to demonstrate that the wearer is a member of a higher social class than the woman who does not wear one. And, since it is literally showing off that you are not a slave but others are/ought to be treated as one, the KKK hood comparison is painfully accurate.
As for gender segregation (which the newsletter addresses): regular readers of my blog may be aware that I regard it as an incarnation of evil and advocate against it in every way, shape and form (including 100% of all sports).
But let me stop rambling and bring you One Law for All’s latest newsletter:
Unveiled: A Publication of Fitnah – Movement for Women’s Liberation
December 2013, Volume 1, Issue 3. Editor: Maryam Namazie. Design: Kiran Opal.
The publication is available here: fitnah.org/fitnah_publication_english/publication_english.html
PDF Version available for download here: fitnah.org/fitnah_publication_english/unveiled_3.pdf
URGENT ACTION: REJECT SEX SEGREGATION
IT’S 2013. LET’S NOT TIME TRAVEL
Universities UK (UUK) guidance to universities on external speakers endorses gender apartheid by saying that segregation of the sexes at universities is not discriminatory as long as “both men and women are being treated equally, as they are both being segregated in the same way!” Any form of segregation, whether by race, sex or otherwise is discriminatory. Separate is never equal and segregation is never applied to those who are considered equal. Join us on International Human Rights Day to unequivocally reject gender apartheid. It’s 2013. Let’s not time travel.
DATE: Tuesday 10 December 2013; TIME: 5:00-6:30pm; AT: Universities UK, Woburn House, 20 Tavistock Square, London WC1H 9HQ.
WE SHOULD NOT ABANDON SECULARISM
Maryam Namazie’s Interview with Pragna Patel and Gita Sahgal
Pragna Patel responds: “…If we don’t defend secular values and instead embrace religious ones then we will be guilty of developing counter resistance strategies against racism and imperialism that hides other forms of oppression. Religion cannot be embraced as a framework for articulating disaffection and alienation or to address questions of equality and rights since its very foundation is based on recognising some rights but not others. We see this most clearly played out in the clash between the right to manifest religion and the right to be free from religion. Women who want to be free from religious impositions that deny them their autonomy and sexual freedom are constantly excluded. But we need to alert to the ways in which this exclusion is actually articulated. Often demands for the right to manifest religion may seem on the surface to be progressive but in fact hide a highly reactionary agenda. A good example of this is the recent capitulation by Universities UK (UUK), a representative body of universities in the UK, to demands for gender segregation in universities… It would appear that UUK is ignorant of the history and struggles against racial discrimination based on the flawed logic of ‘separate but equal.’ Such logic legitimised racial apartheid in South Africa and now legitimises gender apartheid. There is a disturbing failure to recognise that this stance will allow the right to manifest religion (a qualified right) to trump the right to be free from gender discrimination and subjugation (an absolute right).”
NEWS FLASH: NOVEMBER 2013
“Afghanistan: Twelve years after the fall of the Taliban, Afghanistan’s government is considering bringing back stoning as a punishment for sex outside marriage. The sentence for married adulterers, along with flogging for unmarried offenders, appears in a draft revision of the country’s penal code being drawn up by the ministry of justice. It is the latest in a string of encroachments on hard-won rights for women, after parliament quietly cut the number of seats set aside for women on provincial councils, and drew up a criminal code whose provisions will make it almost impossible to convict anyone for domestic violence.
“Iran: A document adopted by the Supreme Revolutionary Cultural Council with president Rouhani’s signature has been forwarded to the education and health ministries to “reduce the unnecessary mixing of males and females.” The section on gender segregation included the expansion of the culture of chastity and the veil…”
ARTS CORNER: BURKA AVENGER
“The Burka Avenger is a mild mannered unveiled teacher who becomes the burka avenger when her school is threatened with being shut down by Islamists, armed with pens and books…”
EDITORIAL: SECULARISM AS A UNIVERSAL RIGHT
“…There are strong secular movements in so-called Muslim-majority countries like Iran, Pakistan, Algeria and Mali, despite the great risks involved. Karima Bennoune has brought to light many such groups and individuals in her recently published book, the title of which is based on a Pakistani play where the devotional singer who is beaten and intimidated for singing deemed ‘un-Islamic’ retorts: ‘Your fatwas do not apply here.’ The uprisings and revolutions in the Middle East and North Africa, such as the mass protests against Islamists for the assassination of Socialist leader Chokri Belaid in Tunisia; the vast secular protests in Turkey against Islamisation; the Harlem Shake in front of Muslim Brotherhood headquarter in Egypt and the largest demonstration in contemporary history against the Muslim Brotherhood – 33 million people – are all evidence of that. Post-secularism (leaving people at the mercy of ‘their own culture’) and the systematic and theorised failure to defend secularism and people’s, particularly women’s, civil rights in many countries and communities, only aids and abets the religious-Right to the detriment of us all – believers and non. As British philosopher AC Grayling has said: secularism is a fundamental right. Today, given the influence of the religious-Right, it is also a precondition for women’s rights and equality and for rights and freedoms in the society at large. It must be actively defended, promoted, and articulated”…
LETTER TO THE EDITOR: UNDECIDED ABOUT LEGISLATING DRESS
Marieme Helie Lucas Responds for Fitnah
“…Women wearing the burqa in Europe today are instrumentalised by the Muslim extreme-right, whether or not they realise it. They display their ‘difference’ and ‘identity,’ which is exactly what the traditional far-right needs in order to fulfil its xenophobic agenda. Both the traditional xenophobic extreme-right and the Muslim extreme-right want a violent confrontation and need it in order to recruit fresh troops. This is not a reason for shying away from addressing the proliferation of burqas everywhere, but it should be an incentive to not isolate the ‘flag’ from the broader issue of the growing far-rights in Europe, including the Muslim far-right…”
Also See Maryam Namazie’s interview with Channel 4Thought.tv on banning the niqab:
Fitnah Unveiled number 2 on the burqa and veil: fitnah.org/fitnah_publication_english/unveiled_2.pdf
Fitnah Unveiled number 1 on the rise of fitnah: fitnah.org/fitnah_publication_english/unveiled1.pdf
Today, I was copied on an interesting letter which had been sent to Mr. Graeme Hamilton of the National Post as a reaction to his article in the National Post, which was highly critical of the Quebec charter of values. I thought you might like to read it:
Dear Mr. Hamilton,
Periodically a poster is displayed, especially on university campuses, depicting a little Arab boy facing an Israeli helicopter swooping down on him armed to the teeth.
The image and connotations presented in that poster are a distortion of the reality. A more accurate redrawing would depict the little boy held up as a puppet on the end of a giant tentacle attached to a monster which would dwarf the helicopter in turn.
The redrawing is based on a cartoon that appeared in Private Eye some years ago, depicting a seal-hunter on the ice about to club what he thinks is a baby seal, but is really the snout of a giant Basilosaurus or Kronosaurus-type creature under the ice.
I’m afraid your Saturday article in the National Post, Home No More, contains a similar misconception.
These black shrouds often worn by Muslim women should be seen as weapons of war, similar to Highland dress and pipes in the aftermath of the Battle of Culloden, and the women wearing them as human shields.
The fact is, and this is being repeated over and over again in cities all over Europe, that once the Muslim population reaches a critical mass in a given area, ALL WOMEN have to cover up, for their own safety. Indeed, “This is a really serious slippery slope that we are all sliding down right now. I don’t like to be alarmist. I don’t like to talk like this. But I am seeing it happening in front of me. I am seeing …. women scared to walk in the streets” might be a description of precisely such a situation.
Passages such as: “She was walking to a physiotherapy appointment in her neighbourhood when she saw two men approaching …… growing number … who say they feel unwelcome [in what they thought were familiar neighbourhoods] … …… a wave of intolerance …… Only x% said they felt completely safe when they were outside their homes.” Indeed “ ….. maybe the tolerance and respect are already out the window.”….. “This is my home, but I no longer feel at home” are accurate descriptions of what such immigration has done to such cities in Europe.
Quebec is therefore to be applauded for its moves, which I hope are aimed at preventing such a situation from arising here. Self-indulgent twits such as Ms. Pichette should be grateful that they still live in a society where “TV host Richard Martineau dresses up in a burqa for laughs” is mostly the worst they have to put up with – although his comparison of burqas and niqabs to KKK sheets is apt. And if she really “fears for her 14-year-old daughter”, she should maybe stop forcing her to cover up in the first place.
It is incredible that so-called “feminists” are coming out in favour of women wearing these dalek suits. One might well seriously ask how voluntary it is, in the light of the large numbers of families one sees on hot summer days where the men and boys are dressed in comfortable Western-style shorts and T-shirts and the women tightly swaddled.
In fact, there was a case in a London teaching hospital a few years ago where the professor banned niqabs, burqas, etc., because of the risk of them getting caught in expensive lab equipment. The response of the Muslim women in the class was “thank you … thank you … our brothers, uncles, cousins, etc. are putting terrible pressure on us to cover up, and now we can tell them ….”
Another disturbing, and related, phenomenon is the way in which Muslim cab-drivers are allowed to refuse blind people’s guide dogs. As non-Muslim cab-drivers would be fired for this sort of nonsense, reports of Muslims getting favourable treatment should in such cases be described as accurate.
Ontario is a bit of a disaster now. Through years of Liberal mismanagement, we are heading the way of Detroit: not only are businesses being driven away in record numbers, but some of our seniors and poor are sinking into energy poverty so deep that they are having to choose between food and electricity.
It is precisely because the situation is so bad that we need to educate ourselves about political options ‘out there’. In this spirit, I’d like to share with you an email I received from the Freedom Party of Ontario: