In Turkey — a country which was nearly accepted as a member by the European Union — a father and grandfather recently buried Medine Memi, a sixteen-year-old girl, alive — and all because she was seen talking to boys. Medine was repeatedly beaten. She ran to the police but they did not help her. When the men buried her she was “alive and fully conscious.”
This savage, heartless, primitive act is the ultimate, logical consequence of burying women alive — shrouding them — while they are still allowed to roam the earth. One becomes claustrophobic under the burqa, until one gets used to, indeed becomes dependent upon, being seen as a ghost, a phantom, invisible, not-quite-human, as good as dead.
All this past week, I received news of this “buried alive” atrocity in Turkey. I refrained from writing about it. What can one say? There is nothing to say. There is everything to do. No one is doing anything.
But, all over Europe, they are fighting about the Islamic Veil. Should burqas (full body shrouds) and niqab (face masks) be banned? Should hijab remain banned in school in France? The Council of Imams in Ireland has just had a press conference. It said that “a ban on the niqab — a veil worn by Muslim women that covers everything except the eyes — violates personal freedoms guaranteed by democratic systems. It added that such bans also constitute an obstacle to multiculturalism, integration and human rights.”
Well — that ought to shame the Europeans.
Imams do not have to shame the government in a place like Egypt (or Afghanistan), where Muslim girls and women are being buried alive in another way: literally shrouded, face-masked, and hijabbed. Few women are protesting. They have no better, indeed no other option. On January 28, 2010, I ran a photographic series about the graduates of Cairo University. Mid-way though the last century, no female graduate was veiled; by the beginning of the 21st century, many were veiled. And now, a reader of this blog has sent me three recent photos of girls and women in Alexandria and Cairo, circa 2009.
Somewhere in my library, I have a treasured set of late nineteenth century photos taken in Egypt in black and white and then artistically colored in. Graceful, sultry palms, ancient ruins, a Biblical caravan, a party of tourists, the Nile. I always assumed I’d go; I never have.
My reader “Ann” wrote to me about a trip she took to Egypt a year ago. She went to see the pyramids — I doubt I’ll ever see them, not in this lifetime, not at this moment of history. I am impressed with “Ann’s” courage and adventurousness. She noted that:
“Most of the Egyptian women were veiled. They don’t consider it a sign of submission but a political statement. A form of Egyptian solidarity and perhaps also a fashion statement. Little girls reportedly can’t wait to be old enough to be allowed to wear a veil. I have pictures of college girls waiting to get into the library in Alexandria; elementary school girls in school — mostly veiled.”
The photos show walking ghosts. Those whose faces are not completely covered or hidden are also smiling. “Ann” continues. She writes:
“I was also surprised by the Egyptian culture. It’s un-Egyptian to ask a favor of someone without giving them a tip. No one just helps a neighbor. Egyptians feel superior to non-Egyptians, so they’re entitled to have more than Westerners. Like the Iranians, everything is someone else’s fault, never theirs — the Americans, the Israelis, the Zionists, the English. They take no personal responsibility for solving their own problems. Also, I was surprised to learn that the primary sources of income to Egypt require little effort on the part of Egyptians — income from the Suez canal, tourism to the pyramids, foreign aid from the USA, oil revenue — I think those are the top four.
Also, they love Obama and hate Mubarak – at least they did last March.”
The great Egyptian feminist, Huda Sha’arawi, would weep if she could see these photos of 21st century veiled Egyptian women. The Egyptian girls (really they are children) seem so eager to please, so excited to dress “up” like their mothers, like adult women. These photos would break Sha’arawi’s heart. They break my heart too.
Allow me to note: Feminism in Turkey and Egypt was not “westernization.” It was not another form of western colonialism. It was merely modernization. As in Iran, it was also an indigenous movement.
Today, the Islamic forces of darkness are burying women alive, both literally, in the earth, (The Turkish atrocity) and above ground, in burqas and face-masks. This must stop. There is absolutely no Islamic religious requirement that women be face-veiled or shrouded. None. Nada. Zilch. It is taqqiyya, disinformation, misinformation, and it is politics-as-usual aka jihad.
If this does not stop, the West and all non-Islamic countries might have to build a wall clear up to the sky to keep such practices out.