Are we at war with radical Islam or not? Government actions leave the answer much in doubt.
This weblog entry keeps an eye on the evolving relationship of Western militaries and the religion of Islam, in reverse chronological order. (I have previously written about American forces succumbing to Islamic codes – abayas in Saudi Arabia and the prohibition of sending pork products to soldiers in Iraq.)
Hijabs in Afghanistan: Reporting from Afghanistan, Alfred de Montesquiou informs us that a "Female Engagement Team" of 46 American Marines in Helmand province all-female unit patrolled with hijabs – brightly colored head scarves under their helmets – this week in an effort to win the confidence of Afghan women. "It's part of the effort to show we're sensitive to local culture," says Capt. Jennifer Gregoire who leads the team. "If you show your hair, its kind of like seeing a nude picture here." (August 15, 2009)
Ramadan and swimming pools in Kuwait: (This breaks news.) Lt. Terry Cox of the United States Navy Customs mission in Kuwait issued guidance for his sailors in an e-mail titled "Ramadan info / Pool Info (UNCLASSIFIED)":
As you know, Ramadan is quickly approaching. I have received many questions about this event. Here are some basic guidelines:
20 AUGUST - 19 SEPTEMBER
FROM SUNRISE TO SUNSET.....
1. Do not eat, drink, chew or smoke anything outside (even while riding in a car).
2. FEMALES ONLY: Do not show any part of your arms, legs, abdomen. Wear long pants and long sleeves at all times.
3. The swimming pool is basically off limits to FEMALES (unless you want to swim in long pants and long sleeves).
**These guidelines DO NOT apply on CAMP PATRIOT. They DO APPLY at the washracks. I realize this may cause some problems for us, but the camp cell is asking for our cooperation with the host nation. The host nation does have the ability to fine persons in violation.
Ramadan is a time of fasting during the daylight hours for people of the Muslim faith. They also refrain from sexual activity during that time. Eating, drinking, smoking or chewing tobacco within their sight is considered disrespectful. The same thing goes for females showing their legs and arms. They consider it almost like you are taunting them. (Sorry ladies, I'm not making this stuff up, just reporting on it!!)
If you have any questions, please direct them to MACM McKendrick and he will address your concerns with the Command Seargent Major, if necessary.
ON ANOTHER NOTE.....
Both the indoor and outdoor swimming pools are in sight of Kuwait military offices on the second floor. They have recently been offended by some horseplay that took place between a male and a female in the pool. A male soldier was dunking a female soldier, and the Kuwaitis deemed that to be inappropriate and sexual in nature. They also expressed serious concern over the attire of the female. Although she was wearing shorts and a shirt over her bathing suit, the shorts were white and "see thru" when wet. They did not fine anyone, but they did threaten loss of pool privileges. Just remember, they are very conservative in many aspects. What is normal activity for us in the States is not normal for them.
Comments: (1) At the Camp Patriot swimming pool, within sight of Kuwait military offices on the second floor of a nearby building, I deduce, sailors may eat, drink, chew, and smoke during Ramadan, but females must always cover up at the pools and may never horse around with men. The U.S. Navy, it seems, takes sexual taboos much more seriously than Ramadan restrictions. (2) When off-base, the sailors must comply with "host nation" customs and not eat, drink, chew or smoke, even when driving in a car. (3) I have mixed feelings about these restrictions, simultaneously approving of tact and disapproving of dhimmitude. (August 12, 2009)