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Scoop Feedback: Headscarves, The Treaty & Jesus

In this edition of Scoop Feedback: French Ban on headscarves - Gibson's "The Passion of the Christ" Set in 1st Century Palestine - Grenades or WMD's? - Biting The Hand That Feeds- Maori Version Of The Treaty

Scoop welcomes reader feedback. Send your news and views to editor@scoop.co.nz

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French Ban on headscarves

The French Assembly is wrong to ban Muslim headscarves in public schools.

France claims to be a secular state. This is not true. The Christian and Jewish Sabbaths are holidays in France, but not the Muslim Sabbath, Friday. The religious holidays Easter Monday, Ascension Day, Pentecost Friday, Whit-Monday, Assumption Day, and Christmas are all statutory holidays in France. France subsidises religious schools. Crucifixes will still hang in schools in Alsace-Lorraine.

What is next? Will they forcibly shear Sikhs whose hair is "liberated" from the tidy turbans they usually wear? Will they cut off circumcised Muslim or Jewish penises that appear in school showers?

Article 18 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, adopted by France and the UN in 1948 states:

"Everyone has the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion; this right includes freedom to change his religion or belief, and freedom, either alone or in community with others and in public or private, to manifest his religion or belief in teaching, practice, worship and observance."

The ban on wearing religious garb and manifesting one's faith we can expect from savage dictatorships like Saudi Arabia, but not from France, the very cradle of equality, fraternity, and liberty!

I urge the French Senate to abandon this act of intolerance. In the short run, it encourages racism and bigotry. In the long run, this law will segregate Muslims into madrassas where fanatics are hatched, or onto the streets uneducated where they can learn a life of crime.

This is a bad, intolerant law that will only cause trouble and teach intolerance.

France's Senate must reject it.

tOM Trottier
Ottawa ON
Canada

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Gibson's "The Passion of the Christ" Set in 1st Century Palestine

Gibson's "The Passion of the Christ" Set in 1st Century Palestine

There is a great deal of controversy surrounding Mel Gibson's soon-to-be-released film, "The Passion of the Christ." Perhaps the underlying concern is that the brutal portrayal of the crucifixion and death of Christ, a 1st century, Aramaic-speaking Palestinian, is too easily contrasted with the on-going brutalization of the Semitic Palestinians and and to some extent the Arab Israelis, many of whom are direct descendants of the ancient Hebrew, Christian and Muslims of the Holy Land.

Today, along with the population, the sacred biblical sites are being ravaged by tanks, bulldozers, Apache helecopter gunships and assault rifles, as the ancient olive groves through which Jesus once wandered are uprooted and burned. One can only hope that the movie portrayal of the "Passion of the Christ" will lead to an awakening and inspire a passion for peace and justice in the Terra Sancta, the Holy Land.

Genevieve Cora Fraser
Orange, MA

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Grenades or WMD's?

Sir,

The Prime Minister accuses Don Brash of "lobbing a racial grenade" into the race relations row after the National Party paid for advertisements in every daily newspaper labelling Government policies "separatism".

That is ripe coming from the leader of a party that, over the years, has covertly contributed more to inciting racial prejudices in this country than that of any other party.

Firstly, a prejudice brought about by years of social and welfare engineering policies designed to do nothing more than cement in place a large and burgeoning state dependant sector of labour voters.

Secondly, its history of ill-conceived immigration policies and bumbling attempts at belatedly applying a "band-aid" to them is there for all to see. Policies ostensibly designed to entice the well-healed to our shores in order that the government may then entrap them in the net of "re-distribution of wealth" to further the cause of the first above.

Instead of wealth creation, these policies have done nothing more than create a further layer of unfortunate people consigned to a lower social-economic grouping who, again, become dependant upon state intervention in housing, education and health.

Don Brash may well have lobbed a grenade, but Helen Clark and her coalition have WMD's of gargantuan proportions waiting in the wings.

Mirek Marcanik
Wellington NZ

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Biting The Hand That Feeds

What a laughable yet tragic charade Waitangi Day has become. Despite hui after hui, settlement after settlement, race-based preferential health, education, legal, and social services funding, and a present Government spinelessly deferring to a radical minority, Ti Tii Marae Maori protestors still attack their biggest benefactor, the Prime Minister.

Talk about biting the hand that feeds you. It seems that in continuously attempting to appease the behemoth that is the Treaty grievance industry, the Labour Government has created a level of Maori preferential expectation that they are not able to sustain. While such a predictable fallout is of Labours own making, the juvenile and cowardly antics of the protestors begs a significant question for all New Zealanders to ponder: when is enough, enough?

With Helen Clark deluding herself that she didn't feel unsafe, Tariana Turia being exposed for the coward she is, and John Tamahere foolishly losing his temper, it was refreshing to observe that National's Don Brash showed both courage and dignity under fire. It is time to take both Nationals race relation’s platform and United Future's call for an alternative "New Zealand Day" celebration a lot more seriously - otherwise the alternative could well be Civil War.

Yours faithfully

Stephen D. Taylor
Onehunga
Auckland


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Maori Version Of The Treaty

Sir,

I was very appreciative of the response by Chip Matthews to the question of why it is only the Maori version, and more specifically the translated English version by Sir Hugh Kawharu that is used at the moment in such things as the Court of Appeal.

While accepting Mr Matthews explanation, I am still more than a little perturbed over the notion of accepting as definitive, for translation purposes, the original Maori version of The Treaty text.

As pointed out, neither the European nor Maori were totally familiar with the language of each other.

In fact, and I suspect this to be a little known fact, it was a the French Bishop who made a significant contribution at the signing of the Treaty of Waitangi.

"Present at part of the negotiations on 5 February 1840, amid a climate of denominationalism and suspicion of each church, he insisted upon the right to religious freedom and guarantees of free and equal protection to Maori and other religious customs." (Thomas, Cardinal Williams Archbishop of Wellington 17 January 2002).

Bishop Pompallier's contribution cannot be understated. He had a genuine concern for his Church and the Maori people who had become Catholics. Since his arrival in 1838 he had a close relationship with many Maori leaders.

However, here we have a 34 year old Frenchman (who had arrived in New Zealand in 1838), able to converse in both English and Maori in the two short years between then and 1840 and advising on the text of The Treaty.

Since written Maori was only in its infancy then, I remain sceptical that the Maori language version was much more than the Maori equivalent of a "pigeon English" version. Hence, to interpret that into English in an "attempt at a reconstruction" of the literal translation seems to me a folly when to translate the contemporary English version (which is, after all, the definitive document) into the Maori of today has a greater probability of producing a Maori version that more accurately reflects the contemporary English meaning.

Mirek Marcanik
Wellington NZ

ENDS

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