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Human Rights Law: Never In Our Names
Pakistani singer and poetess Ayman Udas was shot and killed by two of her brothers, who entered her Peshawar flat and fired three bullets into her chest while her husband was out fetching milk.
The motive has been variously ascribed to outrage over her "sin" in appearing on television, and violating "family traditions" by marrying for a second time--Udas, divorced and the mother of two children, had remarried but 10 days before her murder.
Her killers remain at large.
Udas wrote and sang songs in her native Pashto, the language of the Pashtun people, a people currently divided by the artificial Western colonial constructs known as "Afghanistan" and "Pakistan." Udas, who was in her early thirties, frequently appeared on PTV, the state-run television channel.
Her widower, Usman, told authorities that her family violently opposed both her remarriage and her television appearances, which had quickly transformed her into a popular figure in Pakistan.
According to the London Times, in recent months several popular Pakistani singers and comedians have ceased performing after receiving death threats from resurgent fundamentalist fanatics.
It is said that the last song Ayman Udas performed on television contained the lines:
I died but still live among the living
because I live on in the dreams of my lover
Yasmin Alibhai-Brown is a Ugandan-born British journalist who in 2003 "returned her MBE as a protest against the new empire in Iraq." In a piece for the Star, she recently described herself thusly:
I am a Muslim woman and, like my late mother, free, independent, sensuous, educated, liberal, contrary and confrontational when provoked, both feminine and feminist. I style and colour my hair, wear lovely things and perfumes, appear on public platforms with men who are not related to me, shake their hands, embrace some I know well, take care of my family.
I defend Muslims persecuted by their enemies and their own kith and kin. I pray, fast, give to charity and try to be a decent human being.
Reflecting on the murder of Udas, and other recent crimes against Muslim women--including Rania al-Baz, a Saudi television anchor beaten and mutilated by her husband--Alibhai-Brown concludes:
I look out of my study at the common and see a wife fully burkaed on a sunny day.
She sits still. Her children and husband run around, laughing, playing cricket. She sits still, dead, buried, a ghost. She is complicit in her own degradation, as are countless others. Their acquiescence in a free democracy is a crime against their sisters who have no such choices in Saudi Arabia, Iran, Afghanistan and elsewhere.
Al-Baz says: "I am a disruptive presence because I give women ideas."
Me too. To transgress against diehard obscurantists and their unholy rules is an inescapable sacred duty.
Yet how pathetic that sounds. Progressive believers tilt at windmills driven by ferocious winds of self-righteousness.
Our arms and legs weaken and we are brought to our knees.
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