Autumn traditions for 2014 – 6 Bonfire night

After the gathering of witches and calling the spirits on the 31st of October, people loved to be busy with the dead on the following days, celebrating All Saints and All Souls people want to frighten the spirits away. This, according many cultures can be done with making as much noise as possible and bringing flashy nights. On the other hand many find it necessary to bring the ‘sacred days for the dead’ to a good end by bringing all the death material back to dust by fire. At the end of the Autumn holiday or All Saints holiday bonfires may lit in several places.

Anti Catholic sentiment

Portrait of Henry VIII, King of England

Portrait of Henry VIII, King of England (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

For many there is also an anti-Catholic sentiment which found its origins in the English and Irish Reformations under King Henry VIII and the Scottish Reformation led by John Knox. The Act of Supremacy 1534 declared the English crown to be ‘the only supreme head on earth of the Church in England‘ in place of the pope. Any act of allegiance to the latter was considered treasonous because the papacy claimed both spiritual and political power over its followers. The Scottish Reformation in 1560 abolished Catholic ecclesiastical structures and rendered Catholic practice illegal in Scotland.

Pius V and Elizabeth I

Pius V and Elizabeth I (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Having Pope Pius V wanting to depose Queen Elizabeth with the papal bull Regnans in Excelsis, he declared her a heretic and the servant of crime. The pope released all of her subjects from any allegiance to her, and excommunicated any who obeyed her orders. By this bull the queen found herself forced to have the believers choosing for the pope or for her, becoming part of the ecclesia anglicana, or Anglican faith. The Elizabethan Religious Settlement was set out in two Acts of the Parliament of England. By the Act of Supremacy of 1558 the governement managed to get back the control over the churches in the reign. By re-establishing the Church of England‘s independence from Rome, with Parliament conferring on Elizabeth the title Supreme Governor of the Church of England, the Act of Uniformity of 1559 outlined what form the English Church should take, including the re-establishment of the Book of Common Prayer.

On the question of images, Elizabeth’s initial reaction was to allow crucifixes and candlesticks and the restoration of roods, but some of the new bishops whom she had elevated protested. The determination to prevent any further restoration of “popery” was evidenced by the more thoroughgoing destruction of roods, vestments, stone altars, dooms, statues and other ornaments.  Puritans delivered sermons regarding the perceived dangers of popery, while during increasingly raucous celebrations common folk burnt effigies of popular hate-figures, such as the pope.

A devout and militant Catholic

Guy Fawkes (a.k.a. Guido Fawkes), cropped detail from a contemporary engraving of the Gunpowder Plotters. The Dutch artist probably never actually saw or met any of the conspirators, but it has become a popular representation nonetheless. - National Portrait Gallery, London

Guy Fawkes (a.k.a. Guido Fawkes), cropped detail from a contemporary engraving of the Gunpowder Plotters. The Dutch artist probably never actually saw or met any of the conspirators, but it has become a popular representation nonetheless. – National Portrait Gallery, London

Travelling soldier—mercenary would be the wrong word, Guy Fawkes (1570–1606), a devout and militant Catholic, brought in on a plan to blow up Britain’s Houses of Parliament on November 5, 1605. The family Fawkes with father Edward Fawkes (sometimes spelled Faux), a judicial court official, was required, under the state Church of England religion (now known as Anglicanism, with the Episcopal Church as its American branch), to swear an oath pledging that they were Protestants. Fawkes’s mother, Edith, like many other Catholics, put up a Protestant facade, but her nephew became a Jesuit priest and some of her relatives were recusants — English Catholics who refused to attend Protestant church services. When Edward Fawkes died, when Guy was eight, his mother showed her true sympathies by marrying another recusant, Denis (or Dionysus) Bainbridge, described by an acquaintance (according to the Gunpowder Plot Society) as “more ornamental than useful.” The family moved to a home near the village of Scotton in North Yorkshire. From that point on, Fawkes likely began to come in contact with devout Catholics who were working through official channels and also by underground means to safeguard and advance the rights of Catholics under the country’s increasingly entrenched Anglican regime.

St. Peter’s School in the city of York though having a nominally Protestant headmaster, John Pulleine (or Pulleyn), was likely a hotbed of Catholic resistance. One local noblewoman, according to Gunpowder Plot historian Antonia Fraser, called the school “Little Rome.” Fawkes, according to one source, married Pulleine’s daughter Maria and had a son, named Thomas, in 1591. Other early accounts of Fawkes’s life make no mention of the marriage, which could suggest that it was very short (perhaps with mother and child dying in childbirth) or that it did not occur at all.

Spain wanting to control Flanders and to invade England

Working as a footman to the Catholic nobleman Lord Montague, he may have met Robert Catesby, the originator of the Gunpowder Plot, through family connections during this period. Around 1593, he left England for Flanders (a Dutch-speaking region now divided among northern Belgium, France, and the Netherlands), which was then under the control of Spain, Western Europe’s great Catholic power, and he enlisted in the Spanish army. A military associate (quoted by David Herber) described Fawkes as

“a man of great piety, of exemplary temperance, of mild and cheerful demeanor, an enemy of broils and disputes, a faithful friend, and remarkable for his punctual attendance upon religious observance.”

Spain’s feared Armada had tried unsuccessfully to launch an invasion of England in 1588 trying to expand its power in the willingness to conquer the whole of Europe. Serving under the command of the Archduke Albert of Austria, Spain’s ally, Guy Fawkes fought for the Spaniards in a battle at Calais, in western France, in 1595, and he may have been wounded at the Battle of Nieuwpoort in West Flanders in 1600. It was at the continent that his assignments brought him the experience for blowing up things, like a procession of military wagons. In both these campaigns he came to the attention not only of his Spanish and Austrian commanders but also of a group of English Catholic nobles sympathetic to the Catholic side. He was recognized not only for military valour but also for his virtue and general intelligence.

From protestantism to Catholicism

After the establishment of the Church of England under King Henry VIII and a temporary and gruesome return to Catholicism under Queen Mary (“Bloody Mary”), Protestantism had become well entrenched under Elizabeth, as even the Spaniards recognized. They gave Fawkes a polite reception, but they were moving in the direction of a permanent peace with England, and Fawkes’s mission went nowhere. Meanwhile King James, suspicious of the intentions of English Catholics, sharpened his anti-Papist invective and imposed new fines on recusants.

In Brussels after his Spanish mission, Fawkes was introduced by Sir William Stanley to Tom Wintour, a Catholic soldier. Wintour or Stanley informed Fawkes of a plot under consideration by English nobleman Robert (or Robin) Catesby, whose father had undergone long imprisonment for his Catholic affiliation, and whose own militancy had deepened as he fell on hard times. Fawkes seemed the perfect foot soldier for the plan’s execution. He knew guns and explosives well, and since he had been away from England for many years, his name and face were unknown to Sir Robert Cecil, Earl of Salisbury and the head of the English monarchy’s secret police.

Conspiracy

Conspirators of the Gunpowder Plot. Very similar to one in National Portrait Gallery by Crispijn van de Passe the Elder

Conspirators of the Gunpowder Plot. Very similar to one in National Portrait Gallery by Crispijn van de Passe the Elder

At an inn in London’s upscale Strand distric Fawkes, Catesby, Wintour, and two other conspirators met in May of 1604 to swore an oath for carrying out Catesby’s plan: to throw England into chaos by killing its king and lawmakers in a massive explosion, to install King James’s young daughter, Elizabeth, as Queen and arrange her marriage to a Catholic monarch from elsewhere in Europe, thus restoring a Catholic monarchy.  The Westminster district in London’s West End was a crowded warren of streets and businesses at the time, and Fawkes/Johnson attracted little notice as he was installed as caretaker of an empty cellar of an adjoining building. By early 1605 the plotters had begun to fill the cellar with barrels of gunpowder. To disguise it they covered it with iron bars and bundles of kindling, known in British English as faggots. They had to replace the powder as it “decayed” or went stale.

November the 5th

Finally a date for the explosion was set: November 5, 1605, when King James, the House of Lords, and the House of Commons would all be in attendance in the same chamber. The Powder Treason began to unravel on the night of October 26, with the delivery of an anonymous letter to a Catholic nobleman, Lord Monteagle, advising him to concoct an excuse to avoid the opening of the Parliament session on November 5. Monteagle informed Sir Robert Cecil of the letter’s contents, and Cecil informed the King. Continuing uncertainty over who wrote the letter, together with signs that pointed to its being a forgery, have given rise over the centuries to theories that the Gunpowder Plot was devised not by Catholic militants but by Cecil himself, with the intention of permanently crippling Britain’s Catholics in the ensuing uproar. In this version of events (promoted in recent times by Francis Edwards), Fawkes and Catesby were double agents. The preponderance of historical opinion holds that the Treason was a genuine terrorist plot, but the debate continues.

Anti-Irish propaganda from Punch magazine, published in December 1867.

Anti-Irish propaganda from Punch magazine, published in December 1867.

Whatever the case, the cellars beneath the Parliament buildings were searched on the night of November 4, and Fawkes was discovered, along with the gunpowder. Described as a very tall and desperate fellow, he gave his name as John Johnson. King James, according to Fraser, ordered that “the gentler Tortures are to be first used unto him et sic per gradus ad ima tenditur [and so by degrees proceeding to the worst],” although torture was illegal in England at the time, and had been since the signing of the Magna Carta, the 1215 document that restricted the power of the English kings. Fawkes was hung from a wall in manacles and probably placed on the rack, a notorious device that slowly stretched a prisoner’s body until he lost the use of his limbs. After two days, Fawkes gave up the names of his coconspirators, all but one of whom were tracked down and executed or killed. Prior to his execution by hanging in Westminster’s Old Palace Yard on January 31, 1606, Fawkes was barely able to sign his own name on a confession. After dying on the scaffold, he was drawn and quartered.

Restrictions harsher than any they had yet experienced were placed on English Catholics by King James, and November 5 became a national holiday in England, known as Firework Night, Bonfire Night, or Guy Fawkes Day. In the colonial United States it was celebrated as Pope Day, featuring a ceremony in which the Pope was burned in effigy, but the holiday was gradually absorbed into the Halloween festivities that occurred a few days earlier. Guy Fawkes Day evolved away from its roots in Britain, where the targets of the fire might include contemporary figures despised by the public. As part of a group of anti-terrorist measures, the cellars of the Houses of Parliament are still searched by guards each year before the legislature opens in November.

The execution of Guy Fawkes' (Guy Fawkes), by Claes (Nicolaes) Jansz Visscher, given to the National Portrait Gallery, London in 1916.

The execution of Guy Fawkes’ (Guy Fawkes), by Claes (Nicolaes) Jansz Visscher, given to the National Portrait Gallery, London in 1916.

 

Remembrance night of terrorism acts or ‘bonefires’ as cleansing ritual

An effigy of Guy Fawkes, burnt on a Guy Fawkes Night bonfire

Celebrations are held throughout the United Kingdom (including non-Catholic communities in Northern Ireland), and in some other parts of the Commonwealth. In the Canadian province of Newfoundland and Labrador, 5 November is commemorated with bonfires and firework displays, and it is officially celebrated in South Africa.*

Non religious people love to have a remembrance of the fires in which bones were burned. The “banefire” was the place were the dead were brought together to be burned so that no deceases could spread. It is the sheol or hell spoken of in the Bible, which was at the Biblical times a place outside the cities were the fire was kept burning day and night so that in case of a serious infection the spreading of the decease could stopped soon enough to avoid further deaths. Also the ones (bane) had to undergo a fast decay, which could be done by a fire.

In the ancient and present druid religions, bonfires were and are still held between 31 October and 5 November to celebrate Samhain and to burn the bones of the slaughtered livestock they had stored for the winter months. People and their livestock would often walk between two bonfires as a cleansing ritual, and the bones of slaughtered livestock were cast into its flames. In several pagan circles the tradition of the bonfire is till kept alive. Some modern day Druids and Pagans see bonfire night as a significant celebration to end the harvest festival. In Belgium and Ireland they are mostly lit on the 31st of October. In those countries they are seen as a reaction against those who are religious and believe in Christ and/or in One Creator. Christian symbols are burned to give a sign to abolish them and with it the faith in such symbols or in what it represents. The burning cross should give a clear visible sign  to every one of how they hate the figure of Jesus Christ and everything around it. Pernicious weeds, diseased material is put on the bonfire to show how man can conquer the bad things in nature and how he can be stronger than the natural things which surrounds him. Lots of people find it a nice way to show the gods of nature and the bad spirits that they can control the earth and can frighten any spirit which they do not want to have around them, because if they would come close , they (man) would be there to put them in the fire.

For sure Christians do neither have to celebrate terrorism acts nor papal celebrations, nor feasts for making souls afraid or for giving gods a sign. Participating in such festivities as a sign of anti-catoliscism or a as sign of anti-protestantism would not give a sign of openness to other believers or other Christians and of forgivingness for what had happened in the past.

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* In Northern Ireland, the term “Bonfire Night” can refer to the Eleventh Night celebrations of 11 July. Like 5 November, this Bonfire Night also has its roots in the sectarian struggle between Protestants and Catholics. It celebrates the Battle of the Boyne of 1690, in which the Protestant William of Orange defeated the Catholic James II. The 23 June Bonfire Night in Ireland has its origins in a religious celebration and originally featured prayers for bountiful crops. {“Bonfire repair bill revealed”. BBC News. 15 July 2003. Retrieved 27 May 2011.; Haggerty, Bridget. “St. John’s Eve in old Ireland”. Irish Culture and Customs.}

 

Preceding articles:

  1. Autumn traditions for 2014 – 1: Sinterklaas and Zwarte Piet
  2. Autumn traditions for 2014 – 2 Summersend and mansend
  3. Autumn traditions for 2014 – 3 Black Mass, Horror spectacles and pure puritans
  4. Autumn traditions for 2014 – 4 Blasphemy and ridiculing faith in God
  5. All Saints’ Day
  6. All Souls’ Day
  7. Autumn traditions for 2014 – 5 People, souls and saints in the news

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  • This Day in History: October 30th- A King, His Wife, and The Act of Supremacy (todayifoundout.com)
    Pope Clement feared Queen Katherine’s powerful nephew The Holy Roman Emperor right up the road a lot more than the King of England across the ocean, so he put off dealing with the situation.
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    The Protestants in the realm who thought they won a major theological victory were sorely disappointed, because the King deviated very little from traditional Catholic doctrine or ritual. Henry just wanted to be the boss – and to have access to all of the Church’s vast riches in his kingdom, which he plundered with great gusto.
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    How the King James Bible Came About
  • 2000 years of Christianity : what happened? – Part IV – 1200AD – 1600AD (biblethingsinbibleways.wordpress.com)
    1549: Book of Common Prayer released – At the death of Henry VIII, the archbishop of Canterbury Thomas Cranmer, moved forward with the English reformation. Images were removed from churches, private confessions to priests were discontinued, and the clergy allowed to marry. But mass was still said in Latin. So Cranmer moved to create a liturgy that was pleasing to Protestants as well as Catholics. The book of common prayer was born.
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    1559: John Knox makes final return to Scotland – A Scottish clergyman and writer who was a leader of the Protestant Reformation, founded the Presbyterian denomination in Scotland, helping to write the new confession of faith and the ecclesiastical order for the newly created reformed church in Scotland called “the Kirk”.
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    With the sale of indulgences, the reformation would officially begin at the hand of Martin Luther and the likes of Ulrich Zwingli. Protestantism which spread quickly even with heavy opposition from the Catholic church, even leading to wars between the two groups, would also give birth to the Anglican Church in England, a separate entity from the church in Rome. While Calvin’s teachings were soaked in by Protestantism, a counter reformation was underway inside the catholic church which did not reform many of its earlier teachings. While the Jesuits traveled on missions programs with spain and portugal as they extended their land overseas, many reformers such as Ridley, Latimer and Cranmer were executed for their beliefs – but Protestantism could not be stamped out, and would become one of the largest sects in Christianity – distinctively different from Catholicism, although borrowing and having many of its roots in the teachings of Rome.
  • Repost for Today (supertradmum-etheldredasplace.blogspot.com)
    The king had declared himself Head of the Church in England and had repudiated its spiritual allegiance to the Pope. The suppression and spoliation of the Religious Orders followed, but the Knights of St. John were not at first included in the general ruin. In 1539, two knights of the English Tongue, Blessed Adrian Fortescue and Ven. Thomas Dingley, a nephew of Sir William Weston, Grand Prior of England, were martyred on Tower Hill for denying the Royal Supremacy. By Letters Patent 7th July, 1539, Henry reminded the knights of the English Tongue that he was a Protector of the Order : and it was his will that in future every appointment must be confirmed by him, and that he was to receive the first year’s revenue of the office.
  • The Fallibility Of Papal Infallibility (psalm115three.com)
    if papal infallibility has only been exercised twice, how can Catholic apologists claim that the canon of scripture, Christ’s deity, the Trinity, etc. have also been infallibly declared? How can they claim that some rulings of Popes and councils are infallible, while others aren’t, without having a reasonable and consistent standard by which to make such a distinction? For example, if Pope Pius IX’s Immaculate Conception decree is infallible, why wouldn’t Pope Boniface VIII’s Unam Sanctam decree, which errs repeatedly, also be infallible? Both decrees were issued by Popes, both decrees define doctrine, and both decrees use authoritative language. Or when the Fourth Lateran Council dogmatizes transubstantiation, why is that accepted as infallible, while the same council’s offering of indulgences to those who participate in a Crusade and “exterminate heretics” isn’t accepted as infallible? Catholics are unreasonable and inconsistent in how they define papal infallibility.
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    The Dislike of Catholicism: Understanding the Holy in the Catholic Tradition – 5 – Psychological reasons
    Some Christians routinely advocate angry, hateful behavior. And if they see any vice among individual Catholics they arguably project their own anger – and other shortcomings – onto Catholicism as a whole. This type of Christian is self-perceived as genuine and true while Catholics are deemed invalid.
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    The self-righteous Christian may try to engage others in heated messaging wars over specific points of doctrine. With these individuals, the ideal of loving within the mystical body of Christ gets twisted into something more like negative attention seeking, stemming from an unresolved personal issue.
  • Douthat: Conservatives Will Take Their Ball and Go Home if Francis Changes “Their” Church (religiondispatches.org)
    If the church had been evolving doctrine in a more gradual, holistic manner over the past several decades, the changes being proposed now wouldn’t seem so dramatic. But a pair of popes—John Paul and his long-time doctrinal henchman Benedict—conspired to freeze the natural development of Catholic teaching. They took uber-conservative readings of key issues, like the ordination of women and the “intrinsically disordered” nature of gay Catholics, and then declared them virtually infallible, so that any future evolution was by its very nature heretical.To conservatives, Catholic doctrine has become like a game of capture the flag—if you can hold onto the flag long enough, you win, regardless of the advisability of the original teaching.
  • Biography : Robert Catesby (writedge.com)

    Robert Catesby is a well known figure in English History. He was born in 1673 and died in 1705 at the young age of 32. He was the son of Sir William Catesby of Lapworth and Anne Coughton. Catesby was directly related to the Richard III through his father. He was 6th in the line of succession.

    Catesby’s father was a staunch Catholic and a prime supporter of the Jesuit mission. His religious belief led to his arrest in 1580. Richard was only 8 years old at that time. His father was tried along side Lord Vaux and his brother-in-law Sir Thomas Tresham, for harboring of a Jesuit, Father Edmund Campion. This arrest and trial had a traumatic effect on Richard who grew up as a strong supporter of the Catholic mission.
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    Despite his religious inclinations Catesby was held in high esteem by both Catholics and Protestants and was part of the glamorous circle that surrounded the court. This affluence and popularity played a great part in protecting him from the rigors of recusancy.

    When Queen Elizabeth I fell ill in 1596, as a precautionary measure Catesby and some of his friends from his circle namely John Wright, his brother Christopher and Francis Tresham were arrested and imprisoned in the Tower of London.

  • Death by Quill, the Parliamentary Act of Attainder (englishhistoryauthors.blogspot.com)
    Thomas Cromwell simply did what Thomas Cromwell was highly regarded for. He drafted a law forbidding the foretelling of the monarch’s death, filing Acts of Attainder against the Holy Maid of Kent and her inner circle. How can one be convicted for violating a law before it actually became a law? Obviously, that mattered not. Parliament enacted sentence as judge and jury. Elizabeth Barton, Holy Maid of Kent and five men close to her subsequently condemned, they all were executed at Tyburn — problem solved.
  • Could We Please Have Better New York Times Columnists?: Historical Lack-of-Literacy Ediiton (delong.typepad.com)
    the sixteenth-century Catholic Church lost England not because Popes condemned Henry VIII Tudor’s marriage to Ann Boleyn as adulterous, but because Pope Pius V rejected the legality of the Third Succession Act:
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    Pope Pius V, in Regnans in Excelsis, rejected the legality of the Third Succession Act. He commanded Catholics on pain of excommunication to overthrow Queen Elizabeth I Tudor. Regnans in Excelsis declares that it is not the Crown-in-Parliament that decides upon the line of succession to the throne of England, but the Pope.

Women their education and chances to become a parliamentary

While in Jerusalem some ultra-Orthodox women may have their growing desire fulfilled to meet the standards of beauty in the secular society that surrounds them – without compromising the religious requirement for modesty, in several Muslim countries women are more and more pushed in the corner, not having any opportunity to have some beauty adjustments or to have their brains filled with more knowledge.

In Israel we do find a third of Jerusalem’s Jewish population belongin to the ultra-Orthodox community, known for its stringent observance of Jewish religious law, or halacha. Its members are strongly committed to preserving tradition, often by remaining separate and distinct from Israel’s secular majority. Many of them demand male-female segregation in public places; are intolerant of exposure of the female body; censor photographs of women in their publications and advertisements; and believe that men should not listen to female singers as this may arouse lustful thoughts.

Second to Israel in its receipt of American foreign aid Mubarak’s corrupt and often brutal rule could survive for 30 years thanks to U.S. taxpayers. There the women a few years ago like in Lebanon could walk freely and have to work hard like their male counterparts.  Only 18% of working age Saudi women are part of the workforce in their country where they are not allowed to drive a car. Saudi women earn an estimated $7,156 annually, while Saudi men made around $37,661 on average — one of the widest gaps globally.

Women made up almost half of the workforce last year, and yet were paid only 77 cents for every dollar men made. This wage gap varies considerably among states. Women in Maryland and Vermont, for example, make 85 cents for every dollar men make, while women in Wyoming and Louisiana make closer to 65 cents.

Income inequality is only one of the challenges women face, as is shown in a recent study by the Center for American Progress (CAP). The study, “The State of Women in America: A 50-State Analysis of How Women Are Faring Across the Nation,” examined the challenges facing women throughout the United States by measuring their economic security, prominence in leadership roles and the current status of women’s health issues. 24/7 Wall St. reviewed the states that scored the worst in the country by these measures. {Click here to see which states are the worst for women}

In many countries we see, like in Mali, that Low educational attainment is a major contributor to gender inequality. Although educational attainment is poor among both genders, Malian girls and women are less likely than their male counterparts to be enrolled at each level of education. This disparity worsens at higher levels of education. In addition to a wide gender imbalance, the country has recently had to deal with considerable internal unrest.

In many Islamist countries we can feel the ground shivering by Islamic extremists who took advantage of the instability in those countries where the people did not agree any more with their government. The uprisings or coups are used by the fundamentalist as an easy target to get their dreams spread.

Iran, standing on the 7th place of inequality, received some of the lowest scores in the world for its gender disparities in economic participation. In the country, where in the sixties girls ran in bikini and took on all sorts of high jobs, just 17% of working age women participate today, against the will of the Taliban. Estimated earned incomes differ considerably between both genders, as well, with men earning nearly five times what women do. Politically, the nation is male dominated: Just 3% of members of parliament are women, and men outnumber women in ministerial positions ten to one. A recent report from a U.N. representative noted 30 female presidential candidates were all ruled ineligible for the country’s presidential election due to their gender.

To talk about that inequality in the jurisdiction of a country, standard bearer Malala Yousafzai, who first came to public attention in 2009 after she anonymously wrote an affecting BBC diary about life under the Taliban, came to Brussels to give a voice to all those oppressed women in the world.

This courageous girl was at 15 shot in the head by a Taliban gunman in October 2012 because of her campaign for girls’ education in her country which after Nigeria has the second highest number of unschooled children in the world. As young as 11 Malala began blogging for the BBC’s Urdu site, she brought a convincing voice writing about her ambition to become a doctor, her fears of the Taliban and her determination to not allow the Taliban — or her fear — to prevent her from getting the education she needed to realize her dreams. She got on television, where we could see the Taliban men standing behind at the wall, annoyed but not knowing what they should do. Her television debut in Pakistan was quickly followed with more opportunities to give women a voice in the East. She became a well known figure in Pakistan, but also a target for the Taliban who are totally against the woman having a voice at all.

The attack on her, a shocking act on a child (against Koran teaching) catapulted her to international fame. Today we still can see the damage in her face, caused by that dramatic assault, in which a militant boarded her school bus in Pakistan’s north-western Swat valley and opened fire, wounding two of her school-friends as well.

The attack on Malala exposed not only the dark side of an army unable to provide security but also the abysmal quality of education in Pakistan. Only 2.3 percent of its gross domestic product is allocated to education. Pakistan spends seven times more on its military. According to a recent U.N. study, 5.1 million children are out of school—the second-highest number in the world—and two-thirds of them are female.

Halima Mansour in the Guardian heralds Malala as a young “Pakistani heroine” for her bravery and independence.

“Malala doesn’t want to play to some western-backed or Taliban-loved stereotype. She shows us that there are voices out there, in Pakistan, that need to be heard, if only to help the country find democracy that is for and from the people, all the people.”

Husain Haqqani, Pakistan’s former ambassador to the United States says:

“We have a national lie. Why do we have to tell the truth to the world?”

“The national lie is that the Swat Valley has been liberated from the bad Taliban. Young Malala and her father mess up that narrative.”

Indian schoolchildren pay tribute to Malala

Schoolchildren around the world voiced their support for Malala after she was shot

The Taliban almost made Malala a martyr; they succeeded in making her a symbol.

“Malala was the lone voice in that wilderness,” writes Feryal Gauhar in the local Express Tribune.

“Hers was the voice which made us consider that indeed, there can be alternatives, and there can be resistance to all forms of tyranny. Today, the attempt to silence that voice shall only make her stronger; the blood stains on her school uniform shall only feed the conviction that as long as there is breath and life, there shall be struggle.”

The story of her slow recovery, from delicate surgery at a Pakistani military hospital to further operations and a programme of rehabilitation in the UK, has since been closely tracked by the world’s media. Named one of Time magazine’s most influential people in 2013, put forward for the Nobel Peace Prize and has reportedly secured a $3m (£2m) book contract for her life story.

The memoir she is writing to raise awareness about the 61 million children around the world who are not in school indicates she accepts that unasked-for responsibility as a synonym for courage and a champion for girls everywhere. However Malala concludes her book, her story so far is only just beginning.

Two organizations representing private schools in Pakistan have banned her book, ‘I Am Malala’‎ from more than 40,000 schools across Pakistan. According to them the book is an insult to Islam and shows Malala herself to be nothing more than a tool of the West.

“The federation thought we should review the book, and having reviewed it we came to the decision that the book was not suitable for our children, particularly not our students,”

said the federation’s president, Mirza Kashif.

“Pakistan is an ideological country. That ideology is based on Islam…. In this book are many comments that are contrary to our ideology.”

Once again we see how the Pakistan government is pulled from one site to an other and how it is under Taliban dictatorship. The leaders of an important sector of the Pakistani educational world has chosen to ban Pakistan’s best-known and most loved proponent of education, not just in Pakistan, but all around the world.

Despite the largely secularist policies and intentions of Jinnah, Pakistan is still under the thumb of the holier-than-thou men in beards and turbans, men who always know more than anyone else, even the best educated, who are always closer to God than anyone else, and who reckon they know how to put their fingers on apostasy and unbelief wherever they rear their ugly heads. Even if they don’t raise their heads, the mullas can always make them up.

writes Denis MacEoin of the Algemeiner.

Now after her near-fatal attempt to silence the 15-year-old, she is more dangerous to Pakistan’s status quo than ever before and the Taliban is still trying to get her silenced. The world is willing to give this girl a voice and recognises what she has done for womanhood. For some it is very difficult to understand that gender equality may drive development (rather than the other way round).

for The Guardian wrote on Wednesday 30 October 2013 on Malala Yousafzai’s fearless and still-controversial memoir:

Malala Yousafzai

In Arabic, “revolution” is a feminine noun. This is fitting, as without women revolutions are sterile. They have no movement, no life, no sound. Urdu, a distorter of tongues, pilfering as it does from Persian, Hindi, but largely Arabic, uses the masculine word for coup d’etat – inqilab – for revolution, rather than the accurate feminine: thawra. Perhaps that’s why the Taliban were confused. Perhaps that’s why they imagined that shooting a 15-year-old girl would somehow enhance their revolution.

As the newly released 2013 Global Gender Gap Index — which measures gender parity in 136 countries — reminds us, gender equity isn’t simply a matter of equal rights.

From her book we can also see how dangerous it can be when there is no power fairly shared among the provinces of a country.  there is not only the deepening ethnic imbalance so profound that only an extraordinary common enemy could distract from it. The burgeoning power of the Taliban in today’s Pakistan should not be much of a surprise to those who understand, as Malala does, the need to redress these ethnic wounds.

After she got got the prestigious Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought she did not leave Belgium to leave it like it was before. Next she continued to speak in the parliament at the congress of the WIP: the Women in Parliaments Global Forum (from 27-29 November 2013). At that meeting is looked at reshaping society through female leadership; female empowerment for peace, security and integrity; impact of elected women in parliaments; fight against corruption; delivering on gender equality; gender studies in academics; and the use of technology and women’s political participation.

The intention of the summit is to consider the position of the woman in our society and how she can play a role in the development of the economical and political field of a country. Those countries bridging the gender gap will also receive awards for their leadership in this important task.

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Read more about the congress in Brussels:

Milestones for women ordered

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Please do find additional literature:

  1. Rise of the ‘secret’ ultra-Orthodox Jewish beauty salons
  2. The 2013 Time 100
  3. The Target
  4. The earth bleeds for Malala
  5. When gender inequality is good economics
  6. Gender equality and women’s rights in the post-2015 agenda
  7. Update: Malala Yousafzai “The Girl’s Hero:” The Ironic Gift of Glamour Magazine’s Woman of the Year Award

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  • Leonard Pitts: Malala Yousafzai’s courage (miamiherald.com)
    You may not listen to music or sing. You may not read. You may not leave the house except under certain strict conditions. You may not watch movies or television. You may not aspire. You may not learn.These are the strictures the Taliban seeks to impose upon women and girls in the places it infests, including the Swat Valley in Pakistan. And when she spoke against those strictures, when she gave interviews and wrote a blog asserting her right to learn and to be, Malala Yousafzai made herself a target of those men, one of whom boarded her school bus last October with a gun and asked, “Who is Malala?” None of the girls spoke, but a few glanced toward Malala and the gunman had his answer. He raised his pistol — it was a Colt .45 — and fired three shots. One bullet went through a girl’s hand. Another ended up in a girl’s right arm. And one went through the socket of Malala’s left eye.
  • Malala, Pakistan, and Israel (algemeiner.com)
    She has been given enough prestigious awards to last her several lifetimes, and may well enter the Guinness Book of Records for their sheer number. She has been received by the U.S. President and the Queen of Great Britain, by Prime Ministers, and innumerable dignitaries everywhere. She has spoken to the General Assembly of the United Nations. No matter where she goes, people listen to her. She talks of peace and education, and her message goes deep. Instead of silencing her, the Taliban turned her into a megaphone to trumpet aloud the emptiness of their philosophy.You would think the Pakistanis would love her to bits, and, of course, large numbers of them do. She’s bigger than all the Qawwali singers put together. Her name is everywhere. One day, she could stand for the post of Prime Minister. And God help the Taliban if that day ever dawns.
  • The creation of a Malala (maheshwarigangadhar.wordpress.com)
    The title of the autobiography, I am Malala itself indicates that the main idea is to present people with a photograph of the girl and tell them that she is Malala, with nothing else being revealed. She is the girl who spoke against the Taliban, but not the only girl; a fact that the world has not been enlightened with. Idolising her father, and with an interest in politics, Malala today is the West’s role model of what a young, school-going, oppressed (by Taliban) girl would be, if she ever spoke up and made herself evident to the world. She becomes a commodity through which the West can maintain an argument of international relations with a prosperous outcome and likewise.
  • Girls’ education in Pakistan – Malala Yousafzai (libraryeuroparl.wordpress.com)
    During their brief rule over the SwatValley, the Taliban destroyed more than 400 schools. More than half of these were girls’ schools. They argued that women (and girls) should stay in the home. The European Parliament stated in a 2012 resolution that violent extremism in Pakistan continues to impede the rights of girls. Since the government regained control of the region in 2009, it has rebuilt most of these schools, but there is still high inequality: there are 717 primary schools for boys, but only 425 for girls. Talimand Khan, from a Pakistani think-tank, adds that along with the number of schools, the quality of education has to be improved, too; some Pakistani religious representatives stated in interviews that girls should not receive the same education as boys, but be prepared to become ‘obedient’ wives and mothers.
  • Inspiration or danger? Private schools in Pakistan ban Malala Yousafzai’s book – The Independent (independent.co.uk)
    Yet in Pakistan, the reaction to Malala and her book has been mixed. Many have claimed she has been used by the West for its own interests. The Taliban threatened to attack bookshops that stocked it.Mr Kashif, who said 25 million pupils attended private schools in Pakistan, claimed that in the book Malala had defended the writing of Salman Rushdie on the grounds of free speech and had failed to use the abbreviation PUH – “peace be upon him” – when referring to the prophet Mohamed. He said there was a sense that Malala had not written large parts of the book, because it referred to things that happened before she was born.Observers say the ban comes amid discussions in Pakistan about Malala’s actions. It also follows recent controversy at a celebrated Lahore private school that started teaching sex education.
  • Education is a right, not a privilege. (laurenradmer.wordpress.com)
    The most valuable gift any person can receive is an education. In many African and Asian countries, women are discouraged or even forbidden from obtaining an education, in an attempt to spread male dominance and keep women ignorant. Many of these countries, including Pakistan, impose force and violence against women. According to a documentary created by the Department for International Development titled “Afraid and alone: Violence against women in Pakistan”, a woman in Pakistan is raped every two hours, 4,500 women experienced violence during the first 6 months of 2009, and roughly 1000 women are murdering in “honour killings” each year.
  • Malala (exploredreamexamine.wordpress.com)
    From my perspective, the gender gaps in women’s education Malala discusses are far closer to home than Pakistan is. As a student at an all-girls school that focuses on educating girls, I’m lucky. Girls don’t fall under the radar here as much as in co-ed schools, but are encouraged to take math, science and subjects typically considered to be “male- dominated.” But both in schools and in the workforce in the US, this is still a problem. Women are still paid less in the professional world, even when equally qualified as their male counterparts. Girls still are expected to be “worse” in math and science. Often stereotypes dominate our culture so much, it is hard to remove them.
  • Women need a voice and a seat at the table (theguardian.com)
    This week, the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association UK (CPA) will bring together parliamentarians from around the world to discuss the post-2015 development agenda, with a conference on gender equality and women’s empowerment.Part of CPA’s work is aimed at empowering women leaders. This is about tackling a basic injustice, but it’s also critical to making the best, most informed decisions about poverty.
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    While most international leaders are happy to make a broad commitment to gender equality and women’s empowerment, they have been too vague on the detail of what should be done and how. It is imperative that countries commit to specific, measureable outcomes, because, in the words of Hillary Clinton: “What gets measured gets done.”
  • Why Gender Equality Is Not Just About Equal Rights (theage.com.au)
    Women of the world: pack your warmest sweaters, and head immediately to Iceland.According to a newly released report from the World Economic Forum [pdf], Iceland is the No. 1 country in the world for gender equality, for the fifth year in a row. And that equality is helping propel Iceland and its fellow Nordic nations to new economic heights. Turns out, the smaller the gender gap, the more economically competitive the nation. Even when that nation is totally freezing.(The report puts Australia at 24th place on the gender gap index, just below the United States but below Burundi, Cuba and New Zealand. Australia has moved up in the ranking one position from last year, but that’s not so good when compared with the No. 15 ranking achieved in 2006.)
  • Gender Equality and Equality (aclarioncallforgenderequality.wordpress.com)
    he’ and ‘she’ they both have quality,
    they both have ability
    so we should prefer gender equity and equality….!