The Face of Islamic Women’s Rights in Post-Mubarak, Arab Spring “Liberated” Egypt
My colleague Al-Mutarjim has translated comments made this week to the London-based al-Sharq al-Awsat (via the Gazan publication Donia al-Watan) by a female candidate for the Egyptian Parliament, Muna Salah. The Islamically-enlightened Ms. Salah maintains,
…that women are deficient in intelligence and religion, and it is not permissible for them to be in authority or to occupy the office of the presidency.
Defending her candidacy for the People’s Council, Ms. Salah claims,
…acting as a representative in the Council [confers] only partial authority and not complete authority, such as the presidency of the republic. She added that she seeks to apply the Islamic sharia, including cutting off the hands of thieves, preventing the mingling of men and women, and specifying black clothes for women and white clothes for men. [emphasis added]
Not only do Islam’s foundational texts (i.e., Koran and hadith) and resultant Sharia-based “jurisprudence” affirm such debasing attitudes, “liberated” Iraq provided evidence of how these misogynistic Islamic “ideals” have perverted the Parliamentary process in that Muslim nation. Specifically, The Times of London reported this harrowing story during March, 2005 about the exploits of Sharia and Iraqi “moderate” Ayatollah Sistani-supporting women in the Iraqi Parliament ( “Iraq’s women of power who tolerate wife-beating and promote polygamy,” The Times of London Online, March 31, 2005):
As a devout Shia Muslim and one of eighty-nine women sitting in the new parliament, she knows what her first priority there is: to implement Islamic law. When Dr Ubaedey took her seat at last week’s assembly opening, she found herself among an increasingly powerful group of religious women politicians who are seeking to repeal old laws giving women some of the same rights as men and replace them with Sharia, Islam’s divine law.
Edith Wharton (1862-1937) was a Pulitzer Prize-winning American novelist (received for her 1920 The Age of Innocence, in 1921), short story writer, and designer. Nearly a century ago, immediately after World War I, Wharton travelled to Morocco as the guest of the first French Resident-General in Morocco from 1912 to 1925, Gen. Hubert Lyautey, and wrote In Morocco, (published in 1920), chronicling her experiences. Wharton’s poignant observations about a female black child slave of what she herself considered to be a rather enlightened, Westernized Moroccan leader capture the enduring tragedy of Islam’s continued rejection of Western notions of basic freedom and human dignity, in particular for women.
While tea was being served I noticed a tiny negress, not more than six or seven years old, who stood motionless in the embrasure of an archway. Like most of the Moroccan slaves, even in the greatest households, she was shabbily, almost raggedly dressed. A dirty gandourah [a long loose gown with or without sleeves that is worn chiefly in northern Africa] of striped muslin covered her faded caftan [a usually cotton or silk ankle-length garment with long sleeves that is common throughout the Levant], and a cheap kerchief was wound above her grave and precocious little face. With preternatural vigilance she watched the movement of the Caid [a chief esp. of the Berber tribal communities of the North African Atlas region, and/or a Muslim local administrator, judge, and tax collector in Algeria, Morocco, and Tunisia], who never spoke to her, looked at her, or made her the slightest perceptible sign, but whose last wish she instantly divined, re-filling his tea-cup, passing the plates of sweets, or removing our empty glasses, in obedience to some secret telegraphy on which her whole being hung…[W]hen I looked at the tiny creature watching him [the Caid] with those anxious joyless eyes I felt once more the abyss that slavery and the seraglio put between the most Europeanized Mahometan and the western conception of life. The Caid’s little black slaves are well-known in Morocco, and behind the sad child leaning in the archway stood all the shadowy evils of the social system that hangs like a millstone about the neck of Islam. [emphasis added]