Will Egypt's New Freedom Force More Women Under a Veil of Brutality?
by Phyllis Chesler
Islamism seems to be winning the day in the Middle East and in central Asia. Today, the Obama Times has a highly sympathetic article about how shelters for battered women as well as for women who are at risk of being honor murdered are themselves "under siege." The shelters are seen as encouraging forbidden female flight and independence and as exposing and tarnishing Afghanistan's reputation.
According to Amina Afzali, a member of a new government commission,"there [are] cases where women needed protection but [she] was upset about the shelters' high profile in discussing abuse." Afzali found it "grating" that Time magazine featured child bride Bibi Aisha on its cover; her husband had hacked off her nose after she tried to run away from home. Such publicity "humiliates us in the eyes of the world."
In 1937, the British traveler Rosita Forbes visited Afghanistan. In From Kabul to Samarkand, she wrote: "Afghans are peculiarly afraid of criticism." She found Afghan men utterly charming and unaffected—and yet they lived "as martyr(s) to their own fear of criticism."
Little has changed. Today, President Karzai's government has decided to placate the Taliban by putting the fate of desperate Afghan runaways back into the hands of their families or at least into the hands of the pro-Taliban government.
This otherwise useful news reportage provides absolutely no political analysis of the situation or of the way in which both Islam and Islamism negatively affect the lives of Muslim women. And, the op-ed pieces, usually by Nicholas Kristof, that do feature stories about the abysmal plight of women in the Muslim world, also draw no political conclusions about the nature of Islam, Islamism, sharia law, or about its stealth jihadic presence in the West.
Last week, The (Obama) New York Times also described a disturbing scene in Baghdad:
At the foot of the stage is a piece of scripture:
According to the Times, one Iraqi father brought his wife and daughters to see the stage because "everyone has forgotten about God, and they say that this is progress. Well, I call it depravity."
I do not mourn the passing of Saddam Hussein. Nevertheless, under his brutal and corrupt tyranny, modern Western-style gains for women did take place. True, this did not help the women who were routinely kidnapped and gang-raped by Hussein's sons and cronies and not for the dissidents who were routinely tortured and murdered. However, the Islamic Republic of Iran tortures and murders even more brutally.
Educated women in Iraq agree that "religious parties are on top right now." As we have seen in the photos and videos of female faces in Tahrir Square, Egyptian women are also wearing heavy hijab and even niqab. This is also the case in Gaza and on the West Bank, and of course in Saudi Arabia and throughout the Arab World.
According to one Iraqi woman, "the pressures to cover…[are] getting stronger and uglier. Men who used to flirt now use nasty words." The fact that so many Muslim girls and women are "covering" does not mean that they are freely choosing to do so but that they do not wish to be berated, beaten, or honor murdered.
Islam and Islamism is traditionally a culture that blames women for male lust—something that the Catholic inquisition in Europe did; it was the basis upon which the Church burned an estimated nine million women over a period of three centuries as witches. The Inquisition believed that women were guilty of arousing male lust, causing male impotence, falsely accusing men of rape—and oh yes, of causing drought, famine, and other natural disasters. Just read the Malleus Maleficarum, it's all there.
One young Iraqi man is quoted as saying:
Allow me to predict the intensification of woman battering and honor killings of those girls and women who show too much hair, too much flesh, too much ankle, and perhaps anything more than their eyes, if even that.
I fear that such misogyny is coming our way soon. Clearly, Muslim women are heavily veiled all over Europe and are increasingly heavily veiled in Muslim-majority areas in the United States and Canada and on many university campuses. As I have argued in my piece in Middle East Quarterly, peer pressure and threats of beatings or of honor murders create a climate of coercion in which no woman can truly choose whether to veil.
Meanwhile, the New York Times and other mainstream media steadfastly refuses to draw any political conclusions from its own news stories and refuses to cover Muslim forced veiling and Muslim honor killings in North America.
Even as Britain's David Cameron, France's Nicolas Sarkozy, and Germany's Angela Merkel are proclaiming that "multiculturalism" and multicultural relativism have failed in their countries, the American mainstream media and professoriate still refuse to draw any conclusions about the superiority of American freedom for women and the profound danger that Islam and Islamism, as currently practiced, as well as Muslim Sharia law pose both for women and infidels.
What else can we expect given that last April,"Obama banned use of the terms 'jihad,' 'Islamic terrorism' and 'radical Islam' in US government documents." Obama has also ignored the danger that the Muslim Brotherhood poses both to Egypt and to America.
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