Concerning oppression of Muslim woment, Dr. Sanity notes: "Amazingly, this medieval culture has grasped the fundamentals of both Orwellian and postmodern rhetorical rationalizations, that are so prominent in certain intellectual quarters within our own culture! I have heard the canned rationalizations coming from the lips of muslim women myself; and they all claim that it frees them from having to be "sexual objects. On the contrary, in Islamic society that is apparently the only role open to women. That, and breeders for the jihad."
A case in point is this letter from a Muslim female in the March 10, 2006 Independent Coast Observer, our local weekly newspaper, which illustrates how the world has been turned upside down -- freedom of choice is oppression!
I feel that as a Muslim I must respond to Lisa Walters' letter in your "FencePost" column. Her letter was well titled "Blind Spot" for it's (sic) total lack of understanding of Muslim women. Shame on you Ms Walters for taking it upon yourself to decide I'm "oppressed."
I was born Muslim and have been all of my life. I have always tried to dress modestly (no shorts, tight clothes, heavy make-up, etc.) and most always have worn a scarf or head covering of some sort as an adult. I am approaching 60 years, am female and have lived in several Islamic countries as well as the United States. I have worn a chador, burka, shayla, hijab, hat or scarf depending on the style in whatever country I was in. I have never felt "oppressed." Quite the opposite, I have felt extremely free. Free of being ogled as a sex object, free of my body being used to sell products, free of many, many things I would find very uncomfortable.
I dress modestly and cover my head as my way of showing respect to God and out of respect for myself — not because someone requires me to do so. I have no desire to drink alcohol, dance, attend mixed gender events, nightclubs, music concerts and so forth because I want to please God — not because someone won't allow me to do those things.
I too am a lifetime civil rights activist but I never felt it was correct form to insult or make assumptions about anothers (sic) religion in the process of my efforts. Yes, in this country we do have the “right” to publish these cartoons, but that doesn’t make it “right.” For someone to publish such derogatory cartons (sic) of anothers (sic) faith is in poor taste. To claim that one half of the Muslim population (meaning the female half, no doubt) lacks human rights, is absurd!
Thank you for this opportunity to respond to Ms. Walters (sic) letter.
Anne (Amal) Rein, Point Arena
I heavily edited the response I sent the paper to conform to its 300 word limit. The below is the longer, unedited version
Editor, Independent Coast Observer
I too celebrate the freedom from oppression, and “extreme” freedom, that Anne (Amal) Rein experienced living in several Muslim countries. Freedom and liberty, after all, are the sweetest fruits of the tree of life.
However, I would be negligent if I allowed Ms. Rein’s comments to stand for the experiences of the great majority of Muslim women. Forinstance, the following just happened in Iran: "Demanding freedom for women and political prisoners, protesters in Iran gathered Wednesday to celebrate International Women's Day, only to be beaten by police."
In Pakistan, five men were acquitted who raped a woman on orders from the village council to punish her 11-year old brother for walking unchaperoned with a woman from a socially higher tribe.
A woman who had been repeatedly raped and impregnated by her brother-in-law while her husband was in jail, was sentenced to death for adultery by a Pakistani court, while her rapist went free. You see, in Pakistan, a woman's testimony in court must be corroborated by four witnesses whereas a man's testimony is accepted on his word alone.
Thousands of women are killed or injured in “honor” attacks in Muslim nations in the Middle East every year (Palestine, Syria, Morocco, Iraq, Iran, Pakistan, Turkey, Saudi Arabia), and honor killings are on the rise among Muslims in Europe.
In Bangladesh, which is 83% Muslim, acid violence has disfigured approximately 2,000 girls and women in the past five years.
In Afghanistan, not wearing the “optional” burka got a female reporter and her translator beaten by soldiers. Afghani women still may be beaten if they speak without permission from their male relatives, or if they try to get a job. Even though it was much worse under the Taliban, women are still imprisoned for traveling without being accompanied by a man, or for marrying without their family’s permission.
Ms. Rein, it may be in poor taste to publish cartoons which mock another’s faith, but much more than poor taste is involved when someone, such as yourself, says it is absurd to say many Muslim women lack human rights. Ms. Rein, it is thoroughly documented that they do. As is usual, I have posted this letter on my blog, Strong As An Ox And Nearly As Smart, with links to the supporting documents for every example I have given of rights abuses of Muslim women.
Shame on you, Ms. Rein. You owe Ms. Walters and your Muslim sisters an apology.