FaithWorld

from Photographers' Blog:

Portraying polygamy

Rockland Ranch community outside Moab, Utah

By Jim Urquhart

If patience is a virtue I am damned to burn forever but I've made some friends in the process.

Growing up in Utah, knowledge of polygamy has long been part of my experience. I can recall standing on the side of the residential road looking at a nondescript home with a large cinder block wall surrounding it. My friend leaned over to me to tell me that a polygamist family lived there. He tried to explain to me what plural marriage was in the best way a 10-year-old could explain to another. I was confused. I had a hard enough time trying to fully understand why my parents were divorced let alone trying to figure out how there could be a home with several moms and one dad.

As I grew up what I was able to glean from hushed overheard conversations was that the people living behind the walls were different and something to scrutinize whenever we caught a glimpse of them or that we should try to ignore that their home was even there.

It wasn't until I was older that I began to grab the concept of what polygamy was. But, until recently it was a skewed and unfair view.

I had grown up believing that those who practice polygamy were religious freaks living in an environment that oppressed women, preyed on young girls and didn't educate their children. What I found south of Moab, Utah blew my mind.

Much ado about nothing: fine for niqab-wearing French driver dropped

niqab (Photo: Sandrine Mouleres, June 28, 2010/Stephane Mahe)

A French police tribunal has annulled a 22 euro ($29.50) fine against a woman found wearing a niqab while driving in the western city of Nantes last April. The case fuelled not just one but two separate debates in France, one on banning the “burqa” and another on polygamy among immigrants. Full veils have been legally banned, the polygamy debate has temporarily fizzled out and Sandrine Mouleres, the Muslim convert who challenged the fine, seems to have come out a winner. For now, at least…

The tribunal annulled the traffic ticket issued by officers who argued that Mouleres could not see properly while wearing her niqab, which covered her face but left an opening for her eyes. As her lawyer Jean-Michel Pollono put it: “This means one can drive today with a niqab. There is no danger as long as whatever the driver wears doesn’t block her vision. A niqab moves with the head.”

The second debate, about polygamy, arose when it was reported that Mouleres was one of four wives of an Algerian-born man, Liès Hebbadj, and he might be collecting family allowances for all four. Interior Minister Brice Hortefeux suggested he might be stripped of his French nationality if found guilty of these allegations. Hebbadj fought back by saying he doesn’t have four wives, but one wife and three mistresses (and 12 children among them). “If one can be stripped of one’s French nationality for having mistresses, then many French could lose theirs,” said Hebbadj, a halal butcher in Nantes.

Canada’s anti-polygamy laws go on trial in Vancouver

jeffsA Canadian court opened hearings on Monday into whether anti-polygamy laws violate constitutional protections of religious freedom. The court is wrestling with civil liberties and moral questions surrounding a breakaway sect of the Mormon church that has practiced plural marriages at its compound in rural British Columbia since the late 1940s. (Photo: U.S. polygamist group leader Warren Jeffs escorted into a court hearing, in Las Vegas, Nevada, August 31, 2006/Steve Marcus)

“We are beginning on an historic reference,” Robert Bauman, chief justice of the British Columbia Supreme Court told a packed courtroom in Vancouver.

The provincial government asked the court to probe the law’s constitutionality ahead of a criminal case against leaders of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints that is expected to test the issue.

Bus tours journey into U.S. polygamist town run by breakaway Mormon group

colorado cityA peek inside a polygamist community and their isolated way of life is now just a bus ride away for sightseers from around the world.

Billed as the “Polygamy Experience,” the four-hour, $70 tour takes visitors through the middle of the polygamist enclave Colorado City on the Utah-Arizona border. Children play in yards, families picnic in parks and teenage boys gallop their horses away from the guests. Women with old-fashioned braided hair and pioneer dresses usher the little ones out of eyesight. (Photo: Colorado City, 9 Aug 2006/Ricardo630)

Holm says tourists have come from France, Germany, Holland, Sweden, Norway and throughout the United States. He added that the tour idea is growing slowly as local people start opening up.

Film champions liberalism in conservative Egypt

pyramids

The great Giza pyramids and the Sphinx on March 27, 2010/Amr Abdallah Dals

A new film exploring issues of sexual freedom, polygamy and individuality has drawn media praise in Egypt, but its liberal message remains on the margins in the country’s conservative society. The appearance of Rasayel El Bahr, or Messages from the Sea, in Egyptian theatres is the latest indication of an easing of censorship rules, which film critics say reflects government efforts to counter Islamism.

The film’s themes are striking in a country where the streets are dominated by the Islamic headscarf and where, analysts say, the state is battling against the rise of stricter versions of Islam emanating from Gulf states like Saudi Arabia.

In director Daoud Abdel Sayed’s story, Yehya, a young doctor who moves to coastal Alexandria and slowly shakes free of social norms, falls in love with Nora, who leads him to believe she is a prostitute. Viewers learn that Nora, as the second wife in a polygamous marriage, just sees herself this way. Polygamy is permitted in Egypt under Islamic sharia law.

French Muslim rejects polygamist charge, says has wife and 3 lovers

Lies Hebbadj

Liès Hebbadj and his wife Anne after she was fined for wearing a niqab while driving, in Nantes on April 26, 2010/Stephane Mahe

France’s debate about Muslim face veils has taken an ironic twist. An Algerian-born Muslim man who is a naturalised French citizen has fought back against charges of polygamy by saying he doesn’t have four wives, but one wife and three mistresses (and 12 children among them). What could be more French than that? he asked journalists on Monday as politicians debated how they could strip him of his citizenship.

“If one can be stripped of one’s French nationality for having mistresses, then many French could lose theirs,” Liès Hebbadj, a halal butcher in the western city of Nantes, said after visiting the lawyer for his wife, who was fined for driving while wearing a full facial veil.

Muslim revival brings polygamy, camels to Chechnya

chechnya mosque

Main mosque in Grozny, capital of Chechnya, 17 May 2008/Said Tsarnayev

Adam, 52, keeps his three wives in different towns to stop them squabbling, but the white-bearded Chechen adds he might soon take a fourth.  “Chechnya is Muslim, so this is our right as men. They (the wives) spend time together, but do not always see eye to eye,” said the soft-spoken pensioner, who only gave his first name.

Though polygamy is illegal in Russia, the southern Muslim region of Chechnya encourages the practice, arguing it is allowed by sharia law and the Koran, Islam’s holiest book.

Hardline Kremlin-backed leader Ramzan Kadyrov is vying with insurgents for authority in a land ravaged by two secessionist wars with Moscow. Each side is claiming Islam as its flag of legitimacy, each reviles the other as criminal and blasphemous.

from Fan Fare:

“Big Love” endowment ceremony — relief or dismay?

biglove1

After all the pre-broadcast anguish,  the  "Big Love"  episode depicting a Mormon endowment ceremony went ahead as planned and appears to have generated more relief than outrage.

The TV show about a polygamous family has long been a thorn in the side of the growing Utah-based Church of Jesus Christ  of  Latter-day Saints, although the Church refrained from getting drawn into a battle with cable channel HBO over the particularly controversial March 15 episode.

For those who did not cancel their subscriptions to HBO, and who watched Sunday's episode, many thought it portrayed the sacred Mormon ritual with respect. "I think (actress) Jeanne Tripplehorn did a great job of showing how important this ceremony is to Mormons. She really hit a home run with that scene, " wrote "Marigoldmama" on HBO's "Big Love" forum.

Sect raid raises questions about polygamy in U.S.

“Sister-wives” Valerie (L) and Vicki serve breakfast to their children in their polygamous house in Herriman, Utah, 12 June 2007/stringerFor most readers outside the United States, and probably many living there, the recent stories about the polygamous sect raided in Texas in early April raised several basic questions about multiple marriage and the law in America. Like any other Western society, the United States bans polygamy. Mainstream Mormons officially banned the practice in 1890, but several breakaway groups continued it. While informed readers may know that, it still came as a surprise to see there was a polygamous community of several hundred Americans living in a large compound right under the noses of the local police and politicians. And they were not the only ones — once-hidden polygamists are now pressing to have “plural marriage” decriminalised. What’s going on here?

Andrea Useem, author of the interesting blog Religion Writer, has come up with a fascinating look behind these recent polygamy headlines. She’s got links to blogs with names such as Polygamy Now and Introspection of a Plural Wife (at Heart). The most interesting part, though, is the long interview she has with John Witte, the director of the Center for the Study of Law and Religion at Emory Law School in Atlanta. As she puts it: “He explains why polygamy laws are rarely enforced, how “moral repugnance” is one of the last arguments against polygamy, and why having a concubine is still legal.”

Read it all here.

Useem also has a link to one of several interviews with women in polygamous marraiges on YouTube. Here it is: