Mona el Tahawy: The Islamist Spring and the War on Women

Ms. al Tahawy has composed a powerful and timely expose of the sorry state of women in the Arab world, even after the Arab Spring, which some people have started to call the Islamist Spring, and I find that new name much more accurate in hindsight. 

Al Tahawy has a fine, cutting style (and you know I like that). For instance, on Yemen:

It's easy to see why the lowest-ranked country is Yemen, where 55 percent of women are illiterate, 79 percent do not participate in the labor force, and just one woman serves in the 301-person parliament. Horrific news reports about 12-year-old girls dying in childbirth do little to stem the tide of child marriage there. Instead, demonstrations in support of child marriage outstrip those against it, fueled by clerical declarations that opponents of state-sanctioned pedophilia are apostates because the Prophet Mohammed, according to them, married his second wife, Aisha, when she was a child.

And a bit on female genital mutilation:

I could find you a host of crackpots sounding off on Woman the Insatiable Temptress, but I'm staying mainstream with Qaradawi, who commands a huge audience on and off the satellite channels. Although he says female genital mutilation (which he calls "circumcision," a common euphemism that tries to put the practice on a par with male circumcision) is not "obligatory," you will also find this priceless observation in one of his books: "I personally support this under the current circumstances in the modern world. Anyone who thinks that circumcision is the best way to protect his daughters should do it," he wrote, adding, "The moderate opinion is in favor of practicing circumcision to reduce temptation." So even among "moderates," girls' genitals are cut to ensure their desire is nipped in the bud -- pun fully intended. Qaradawi has since issued a fatwa against female genital mutilation, but it comes as no surprise that when Egypt banned the practice in 2008, some Muslim Brotherhood legislators opposed the law. And some still do -- including a prominent female parliamentarian, Azza al-Garf.

Anyway, do read the whole thing, and LIKE it on FB, and blog on it, and pass it on.

All of that having been said, Ms al Tahawy is, as you probably know, on the losing side of this battle. At the end of the day the practice of the Prophet himself was misogynistic and anti-woman. Not always, but more often than not. But still, good for her, though if she takes her fight for women to its logical conclusion it will mean leaving Islam.


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