Thomas Dalrymple’s brief article (via Instapundit) explaining the murder of Theo Van Gogh as a reaction by Muslim men at their must vulnerable point – the abuse of women – is correct as far as it goes, but it tells only part of the story. Writes Dalrymple:
The majority of Muslims in Europe, particularly the young, have a weak and tenuous connection to their ancestral religion. Their level and intensity of belief is low; pop music interests them more. Far from being fanatics, they are lukewarm believers at best. Were it not for the abuse of women, Islam would go the way of the Church of England.
Well, maybe. But religious traditions run deep and on the most primitive levels, even, perhaps especially, when they are tenuous. As a Jew who has been more or less an atheist since his Bar Mitzvah, I still think something is amiss if I don’t celebrate Passover.
And women have been held in low esteem, even as second class citizens, to one degree or another in the Judeo-Christian tradition as well, but these beliefs have been under constant attack for some time. Huge portions of that tradition and its secular off-spring now reject that position. And as I am sure Dalrymple is aware (I have no real quarrel with him. He is quite brilliant), the very foundation of these religions (Islam included), it has been argued, has been ascribed in part to patriarchy’s struggle for ascendancy over matriarchy. I don’t have the knowledge to debate these theories, but it is clear modern life is going in a different direction. Many studies have related the financial success of society to the contribution of women in the work place. We are at a place now where women may even be becoming the dominant force there, since they may be more suited for the information age.
This leaves the Islamic world in a rage, clinging to traditions from a time when the world was thought flat. A woman named Monir Kazemi wrote tellingly of this dilemma in this email exchange quoted on Power Line:
Dear Jana, I was born in the Middle East and went to Islamic school and at one time I memorized parts of the Koran. I am from a neighboring country to Iraq.
The Koran says Sureh 4, Verse 35: Men have authority over women (not just the wife but sisters, daughters, maids, etc.). If they disobey, “first admonish them, then refuse to sleep with them, and then beat them”. You can read it for yourself at http://www.light-of-life.com/eng/reveal/ or other sites. Also try http://www.flex.com/~jai/satyamevajayate/index.html to see the 2nd class citizenship of women in Islam (for example they are counted as half of one witness, or receive inheritance half of a man).
Now Jana you are wrong that this is a matter of interpretation. When the Koran says women receive half the inheritance of a man, then this is not an issue of interpretation. It says Sureh 4:11 – “A male shall inherit twice as much as a female”. Now how can you interpret mathematics in multiple ways?
You say that I am “not allowed” (by whom may I ask?) – that I am not allowed to say that the Koran has recommended to beat women or to disinherit women because of their gender.
Of course we can find similar, though probably not as extreme, comments about women in the Bible, they have been largely discredited. How to discredit the reactionary parts of the Koran? That is problem of our time. Monir Kazemi, in that same email to Jana, puts it as well as anyone I have ever read:
What stops me and other open minded people to say that the Koran contains nonsense of this sort? If it offends you that I say this, well then take a cold shower, and if you are a moslem (by the sound of it) then change your religion instead of being so embarrassed about it, as I am just repeating what is in there complete with verse numbers and am exercising my right to free speech, and I can say all I wish about Islam, including facts about the Koran – and this is exactly why the Marines are in Fallujah beating the hell out of these Islamofascists – because they want to stop me from saying the facts, and no Jana, you cannot stop me as those Marines are protecting me, the Iraqis, and ultimately America, and neither can you stop the good Marines who are risking their lives, to bring out the truth about this decrepit religion. You should be ashamed of yourself to undermine our men and women in danger in the battlezone who are fighting tyranny, while people like you suck up to it.
Yes, we are in a long struggle and, yes, women’s rights are the very center of it.