News Briefs: Week of December 06, 2010

Pope Benedict calls for Aasia Bibi’s freedom, Danish politician feels images of topless women may prevent extremists from entering the country, and Iran announces annual No Divorce Day.
Noreen Aasia’s case, widely known as Aasia Bibi, has once again sparked global and domestic outrage after a Pakistani district court announced their decision to sentence her to death. For allegedly insulting Islam and its prophet, Aasia has already endured 18 months in prison. If the sentence is carried through she will be the first person to be executed for the crime of blasphemy. Last week, Pope Benedict XVI called for the Pakistani Christian woman’s freedom, reports Time Magazine.

In Denmark, a foreign policy spokesman for the far-right Danish People’s party, Peter Skaarup, feels that images of topless women need to be included in an upcoming documentary film that will be shown as part of an immigration test for foreigners. Not only because topless women are a good example of Danish open-mindedness, but also, he argues, “by including a couple of bare breasts in the movie, extremists may have to think twice before deciding to come to Denmark.” A similar film has been made in Holland, which includes scenes of two men kissing as well as topless sunbathing women. Not everyone, however, is on board with Skaarup’s idea. The Conservative Party’s integration spokesman Naser Khader says, “a pair of naked breasts is no protection against extremism. It’s quite the opposite, fundamentalists are so obsessed with sex that they will be pouring in over the borders. Maybe we should try with naked pigs.”

The historic wedding of Imam Ali and Fatemeh al-Zahra is annually commemorated in Iran as a day to celebrate family values. This year, however, as a sign of Iranian authorities’ concern over its alarming rise in divorce rates, Marriage Day, as it is known, was renamed No Divorce Day. A day when no divorce permits would be issued, in Iran. Nationwide, there is one divorce for every seven marriages; in the city of Tehran, the ratio is 1 divorce for every 3.76 marriages. The leading factor is the increasing number of women who are asserting their rights and not remaining unhappy marriages, reports the New York Times.

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