Powered by WebAds

Saturday, March 10, 2007

The Druze imitate the Muslims

A lot of people outside of our area don't realize that the Druze are not exactly Muslims.
The Druze (Arabic: درزي, derzī or durzī, plural دروز, durūz; Hebrew: דרוזים‎, Druzim; also transliterated Druz or Druse) are a distinct Semitic community based mostly in the Middle East whose religion has been influenced by Islam and other philosophies, including Greek philosophy. Druze consider themselves theologically as "an Islamic Unist, reformatory sect",[1] although they are not considered Muslims by most Muslims in the region[citation needed]. The Druze call themselves Ahl al-Tawhid ("People of Monotheism") or al-Muwahhidūn ("Monotheists"). The origin of the name Druze is traced to Nashtakin ad-Darazi, one of the first preachers of the religion.
The Druze also have a different attitude towards the State of Israel than most Muslims have:

In Israel, Druze usually identify themselves as Arabs (but not as Palestinians).[5] Lately, Azzam Azzam, a Druze Israeli businessman, was accused by Egypt of spying for Israel and was imprisoned for seven years. The Israeli government denied this accusation.

However, many Druze living in the Golan Heights consider themselves Syrian and refuse Israeli citizenship, while the remainder consider themselves Israeli. In general elections, the majority of Druze villages have similar voting patterns as the general public.

Israeli Druze also serve in the Israeli army, voluntarily since 1948, and—at the community's request[citation needed]—compulsorily since 1956. Their privileges and responsibilities are the same as those of Israeli Jews; thus, all Druze are drafted, but exemptions are given for religious students and for various other reasons. Most recently in the 2006 conflict in Lebanon, the all-Druze Herev [sword] Battalion, through their knowledge of the Lebanese terrain, suffered no casualties and are reported to have killed 20 Hezbollah fighters, triggering suggestions that the battalion will be transformed into an elite unit[6].

In January 2004, the spiritual leader of the Druze community in Israel, Shaykh Mowafak Tarif, signed a declaration calling on all non-Jews in Israel to observe the Seven Noahide Laws as laid down in the Bible and expounded upon in Jewish tradition. The mayor of the Galilean city of Shfaram also signed the document.[citation needed] The declaration includes the commitment to make a "...better humane world based on the Seven Noahide Commandments and the values they represent commanded by the Creator to all mankind through Moses on Mount Sinai."[citation needed]

Support for the spread of the Seven Noahide Commandments by the Druze leaders reflects the biblical narrative itself. The Druze community reveres the non-Jewish father-in-law of Moses, Jethro, whom Muslims call Shuˤayb. According to the biblical narrative, Jethro joined and assisted the Jewish people in the desert during the Exodus, accepted monotheism, but ultimately rejoined his own people. In fact, the tomb of Jethro near Tiberias is the most important religious site for the Druze community.[7] It has been claimed that the Druze are actually descendents of Jethro.

Unfortunately, a Druze woman's life has been threatened by her family and community because she sought to become Miss Israel (and had reached the final round). She was the first Druze contestant in the pageant, and she has now dropped out due to threats on her life:
The striking brunette with sea-green eyes and pouting lips changed her name to Angelina and entered the Miss Israel beauty pageant hoping to be crowned queen, a title that comes with a cash prize, modelling contract and a car.

Instead, Angelina — the first Druze to compete in the pageant — was threatened with death, allegedly by two uncles and other men from her village who accused her of disgracing the family name with promiscuous behaviour.

When police uncovered the apparent plot to kill her last week, Ms Fares disappeared into protective custody. When she emerged from hiding she announced that she was withdrawing from the competition, fearing for her life.

“My life is much more important than a contest, but it’s very difficult for me to give up my dream,” she said, sitting in the darkened living room of her family home in this small Galilean village. She is too frightened to answer her mobile phone or leave the house.


Last month, the contestants flew to Thailand on a supervised tour with contest organisers, but while Ms Fares was sightseeing, swimming and sun-bathing, trouble was brewing at home. Advertisements featuring Ms Fares in a miniskirt and sleeveless top were published in magazines. On her return to Israel, she received threatening phone calls and e-mails. Men from a neighbouring village shouted insults when she walked down the street.

“They said, ‘You’re a Druze girl, you should be ashamed of yourself’. Some even accused me of prostitution.”

The accusations ignited a furious debate in the village and beyond. Ms Fares was invited to appear on talk shows; her photograph was on the front pages of Israeli newspapers.

Supporters pressed Ms Fares to remain in the competition, while critics — including the Druze spiritual leader Sheikh Mowafak Tarif — demanded that she drop out. “We do encourage progress and modernisation, but certainly there are limits to which a woman can expose herself,” Sheikh Tarif told The Times.

Last week, police received a tip that a group of men in the village, including two of Ms Fares’s uncles, were plotting to kill her. Anwar and Hatem Fares allegedly hired two men to buy guns and a third man to murder their niece. She was taken into protective custody and all five men were jailed.

But the sequence of events forced the Fares family to reconsider. “These are people who love me and I love them. I was shocked,” Ms Fares said. “I stepped out, out of respect for our religious leaders and dignitaries. Above all, it was out of respect for my family.”

The Fares family refused to press charges against the uncles, and they were released. But Colonel Ephy Fertouk, the local police investigator, said that the case is not closed.

Sheikh Tarif says that Angelina could face further problems: “We live in a democratic state and freedom prevails, but if a woman goes beyond the red lines, it will cause people to isolate this person or worse.”

But Ms Fares is determined to pursue her dream. She has hired an agent and a spokes-person and is to star in a documentary about her ordeal. And she will still be at the Miss Israel pageant — if only as a spectator: “I will definitely be there, you can count on it.”
As you might imagine from reading my bio above, this is not the sort of thing I would want my own daughters doing. On the other hand, I would certainly not have them murdered if they decided to do it. My guess is that if 'Angelina' wants to pursue this, it is not going to happen in the Middle East.


Post a Comment

<< Home