Wednesday, 27 October 2010 17:33 Cassandra Culture-Practices - Weird and Creepy

(Warning: Some graphic content inside)

Australians love their dogs and regard them as part of the family. Walking our dog is part of life for many, and the death of a beloved pet will leave us grief stricken, as Lifeline affirmed recently:

Lifeline Australia has acknowledged the crisis many people endure at the loss of a pet and has appointed veterinarian Katrina Warren as an ambassador to promote Lifeline's role for people grieving over the loss of an animal. Dr Warren said there had been a huge gap in society's understanding of pet loss. ''Our society often does not validate or understand the role pets play in so many of our lives.''

Doctors and even counsellors who did not themselves have a pet often had little grasp of the tragedy of pet loss. The words ''It's just a cat or it's just a dog'' deepened the grief.

The use of dogs to help humans in need has gone well beyond the now common seeing-eye dog. There are now dogs trained to help disabled people dress, to alert deaf people to a knock at the door and a growing number whose mere presence brings comfort to patients in pain.

Canine participation even extends to helping children learn to read. A pilot ''Classroom Canines'' program in Geelong has been found to help children improve their reading, apparently by instilling a calming confidence among pupils who read to the dog. (source)

We assume that most people share our delight in our four legged friends, but sadly this is not the case with Muslims, whose distaste for dogs is sacralised:

"The dog, is in Islam one of the "unclean beasts", primarily because it's flesh may not be eaten and because, according to the Hadith, dogs render food which they lick impure and render unavailable water intended for ritual purification.
Vessels licked by dogs must be cleaned several times, including once with sand. Dogs render impure the whole room in which they are; for angels do not enter a house in which there is a dog and Muhammad had first to sprinkle the place on which a young dog had lain concealed with purificatory water before Gabriel would appear to him.
Dogs cut off the salat (prayer), i.e. they make the salat worthless when they come into the immediate vicinity of the man at prayer....

“Allah Taãla created the dog from among His creation. This does not mean that we should love the dog. It is perhaps the indoctrination of the Western culture that 'The dog is Man's best Friend'… On the contrary, we are instructed not to keep dogs as pets and 'love' them as exemplified by the non-Muslims. Remember our life is structured and bound by the Shariah i.e. The Noble Qurãn… In the light of these Ahaadith and other narrations it is not permissible to keep dogs as pets.

“Sorry, I sneeze; my religion.” If only he had not made the second statement, he might have got away with the first.”

Amongst other examples he cites are the Scottish police force using a picture of a puppy in an advert informing the public of their new phone number.

“A Muslim councilor, Mohammed Asif, said… the police should have understood.”

Naturally, the police spokesman grovelled:

"We did not seek advice from the force’s diversity adviser prior to publishing the postcards. That was an oversight and we apologise for any offence caused.”

After complaints about sniffer dogs at railway stations in the UK trained to spot terrorists, the Transport Police declared that its dog handlers would be mindful of “cultural sensitivities”. Lansdown’s comment is apt:

“Cultural sensitivity towards people whose religious ideology includes jihad, holy war, against anyone who does not revere their prophet, Muhammad and worship Allah? Given that increased railway security in London is the direct result of the suicide bombings of three trains in London in 2005 by Muslim terrorists…surely Muslim citizens should be the last to object to- and the last to be given an apology for - any measure deemed necessary to detect explosives being smuggled into railway stations.”

The whole article is well worth reading. The last paragraph sums it up admirably:

“The lives of devout Muslims are governed by the superstitions and obsessions of their Prophet. And they want the lives of non-Muslims to be governed by these superstitions and obsessions, too. For the sake of freedom and fairness, we should resist.”

Who can argue with that!

Daniel Pipes has written extensively about Muslims’ problems with seeing-eye dogs, who must by law be allowed into premises. Yet Muslim taxi drivers consistently refuse to allow guide dogs into their cars.

In July 1997 a New Orleans taxi driver, Mahmoud Awad, got so incensed at his passenger, Sandi Dewdney, trying to bring a dog into the cab that he physically yanked her out of it by the arm while yelling "No dog, No dog, Get out, get out." He harmed her broken wrist. To this, CAIR replied by pointing out that "the saliva of dogs invalidates the ritual purity needed for prayer" and left it to the scholars of Islam to decide whether a guide dog should be allowed in a cab. The judge, after researching Islamic attitudes and finding no support for the driver's claims, called his behavior "a total disgrace.

In Melbourne, where about 20% of the city's 10,000 taxi drivers are Muslims, the Herald Sun reported :
Muslim taxi drivers are refusing to carry blind passengers with their guide dogs. At least 20 dog-aided blind people have lodged discrimination complaints with the Victorian Taxi Directorate.
Victorian Taxi Association spokesman Neil Sach said the association had appealed to the mufti of Melbourne to give religious approval for Muslim cabbies to carry guide dogs. One Muslim driver, Imran, said yesterday the guide dog issue was difficult for him. "I don't refuse to take people, but it's hard for me because my religion tells me I should not go near dogs," he said.

Despite their legal obligations to allow guide dogs, Muslims will often flout the law:

A LEGALLY blind woman was refused entry to a taxi unless she put her guide dog in the boot. About 35 per cent of all people with guide dogs have been refused entry to a taxi in the past 12 months, despite hefty fines for cabbies who fail to comply.

Sydney woman Sarah Eady was at Central Railway's taxi rank when a driver refused to let her five-year-old guide dog Ally into the front seat.

"I opened the door and he said 'Can you sit in the back with the dog' and I told him the dog was trained to sit in the front," she said.
"He said he didn't want the dog in the front and then he asked me to put Ally in the boot." Ms Eady said she was often refused entry to taxis because of her dog.
However, the latest incident was particularly frustrating because it flew in the face of a recent Guide Dogs NSW awareness campaign that specifically targeted cabbies.
Advertisements featuring the slogan "Any dog can chase a car, ours can catch a cab" have been placed on the back of taxis throughout Sydney.

One way to resolve this dilemma is to pander to Islamic sensibilities and use other animals as guides, as in Dearborn, USA:

Seeing-eye dogs are a nonstarter among many Muslims who consider the animals unclean, but a horse the size of a dog just might work.
"This is a really awesome little horse," Mona Ramouni said, as she put Cali, a 3-year-old miniature horse, through her paces and rode the bus to work with her.
Ramouni, a proofreader of textbooks in Braille, wanted more independence, but a traditional guide dog wasn't an option. She's an observant Sunni Muslim and respects her Jordanian-born parents' aversion to having a dog in the home
The answer is Cali, who stands about 2 1/2 feet tall and weighs about 125 pounds.
While most Muslims believe dogs can violate ritual purity, horses are seen as "regal animals," says Dawud Walid, executive director of the CAIR's Michigan chapter.
…Since Ramouni had never used a dog, she had to learn how to control a guide animal. She was partially successful at training a pet dwarf bunny named Baylea — "she does come when I call her," Ramouni says — and has worked hard with Cali.
"It's made (Ramouni) so much more empowered," said fellow proofreader Kelli Finger. She said Cali has gotten along well with the guide dogs in the office, including her own 9-year-old black Labrador.

Hmm, I can foresee problems here, when CAIR complain that the office guide dogs are contaminating Ramouni, so she must be provided with her own office – at the firm’s expense, of course! Remember, once you start pandering, the demands never stop.

However, I’m impressed that she could train a pet dwarf bunny. This opens up endless possibilities for guide animals. Maybe we can use those with a true Aussie flavour – a seeing eye wombat maybe!

DOGS Victoria provides Therapy Dogs, where volunteers visit aged care homes:

These visits by the therapy dogs and their handlers are making people’s lives a little brighter with visits from many diverse breeds including Rottweiler, Labrador, Great Dane, Borzoi, Corgi, Kelpie and Keeshond.

All of the dogs are tested for their suitability to deal with many of the unexpected things that they will encounter in their visits. Things that they will not normally come across in everyday life like, wheelchairs, walking frames, walking sticks and hospital equipment. They must also be sensitive to the ways of the elderly and infirmed.

Organiser Nicki Abell wanted to share those benefits with even more people.
Clinton the Mastiff visits psychiatric patients in Berwick…
Wellington the Collie (Rough), visits dialysis patients in Cranbourne.

All very well, but this could be seen as blatant discrimination against Muslims, who cannot avail themselves of these comfort visits. We must urgently provide extra funding to train various types of animals – goats, horses and possums – to visit Muslim patients.

Otherwise, it’s only a matter of time before there will be a complaint under the Racial and Religious Tolerance Act!

Just some related news items:

 - Muslim taxi drivers refuse blind fares with 'unclean' guide dogs

- Some taxi drivers refusing to take passengers with guide dogs

- A blind Vancouver man who was shunned by a taxi driver who didn't want a guide dog in his cab has reached a $2,500 settlement with North Shore Taxi.

- Cabbie banned for guide dog bar

 - Taxi driver told blind woman - put guide dog in the boot or get out

 - Biased cabbies face fines