Sunday, March 12, 2006

The strength of women.

Marina Mahathir lived a privileged life in Islamic Malaysia. Her father was prime minister. But she has created a firestorm.

She writes a regular column for a newspaper and one essays she wrote has been attacked. The column had actually been held back by the paper for several days, no doubt as they tried to decide what to do.

The reason for the uproar is that she said new religious laws in Malaysia are attempting to make women second class citizens. The laws, proposed by Islamic groups, impose stricter controls on women.

When attacked for prejudice the authoritarian always resorts to claiming that they are the victims. And so it was in Malaysia. The Muslim Professional Forum was outraged over the “her prejudiced views”. They said her assumptions “smack of ignorance of the objectives and methodology of the Sharia and a slavish capitulation to western feminism’s notion of women’s rights, gender equality and sexuality.”

For the time being the most egregious forms of sharia is imposed on Muslim women but it is only a matter of time before all women are brought under it’s yoke. Mahathir said: “In our country, there is an insidious growing form of apartheid among Malaysian women, that between Muslim and non-Muslim women. As non-Muslim women catch up with women in the rest of the world, Muslim women here are only going backwards.”

Dr. Homa Darabi was a prominent child psychiatrist in Iran. She had opposed the oppressive regime of the shah and had fought for the rights of women. After the Islamist revolution, when the rule of the mullahs was put into effect, she went to a main square in Tehran. She screamed out: “Death to tyranny! Long live freedom! Long live Iran!” She then poured gasoline over herself and ignited it. This story was told to the world by Parvin Darabi, her sister.

Dr. Wafa Sultan was born in Syria. But she now lives with her family outside Los Angeles. She is a trained psychiatrist. She too has ignited a storm and become an international sensation but also become a woman marked for death.

She was raised a devout Muslim in Banias, Syria. In 1979 she was a medical student at university. One day she sat in class when a group of radical Islamists from the Muslim Brotherhood burst into the room.

As the terrified woman watched, with the other students, the men murdered her professor before her eyes. “They shot hundreds of bullets into him, shouting, ‘God is great!’ At that point I lost my trust in their god and began to question all our teachings. It was the turning point of my life, and it has led me to this present point. I had to leave.”

She and her husband immigrated to America. But Sultan couldn’t remain quiet. She penned an article on the Muslim Brotherhood that was published on a dissident Arabic web site, run by another Syrian refugee living in the US. This was noticed by Al Jazeera that invited her to debate an Islamic cleric on television.

She did not just debate the man. She launched an torrent of words condemning what Islamists have done to the Arab world. In her fluent Arabic she cried out: “"The clash we are witnessing around the world is not a clash of religions or a clash of civilisations. It is a clash between two opposites, between two eras. It is a clash between a mentality that belongs to the Middle Ages and another mentality that belongs to the 21st century. It is a clash between civilisation and backwardness, between the civilised and the primitive, between barbarity and rationality."

An Egyptian professor on the program pronounced her a heretic saying she had blasphemed Islam, the Koran and Mohammed. Since then death threats have been regularly issued against her.

Ayaan Hirsi Ali was born in Ethiopia. But when told that her father was going to force her into an arranged marriage she fled to the Netherlands. Already fluent in several languages she added Dutch to the list. She openly criticised Islam especially for the harsh treatment of women. And she eventually became a member of the Dutch parliament.

She wrote a short screen play Submission to protest the treatment of women. With her friend Theo van Gogh the film was produced and eventually shown on Dutch television. One day van Gogh was riding his bicycle through the streets of Amsterdam. A religious Muslim shot him. As van Gogh lay on the sidewalk begging for his life the man pumped 20 more bullets into him. When he ran out of ammunition he stabbed the man repeatedly and then cut his throat.

Pinned to the body of the dead man was a message. The killer threatened Ali with death as well and announced that America, Europe and the Netherlands would die and be replaced by Islamic theocracies. Ali is forced to live daily with body guards.

Ali fled to the US but after several months returned to Holland to take up her job as a member of parliament. She says: “I am guarded 24 hours a day. My bodyguards are always with me, everywhere I go. There are two bedrooms in my apartment, one for me, and the other for two bodyguards who take turns sleeping. Whenever I open my door, the door to the other bedroom opens and they check to see what’s going on.”

Ali must be driven to parliament in an armoured vehicle. She enters through a secured side entrance. Her office is guarded constantly. Ali has not stopped her campaign to inform the world about the march of authoritarianism. She still speaks out and has written a new book on the topic. As she says: “What else can they do but issue a death threat? Now that I’ve already been given the maximum sentence, at least I can act freely.”

Dr. Sultan said something similar: “It is like a million-mile journey, and I believe I have walked the first and hardest 10 miles.” She, like Ali, has nothing left to lose. They are free to speak out. Already marked for death their tongues and minds have been liberated.

Consider the case of Fadime Sahindal. She was born to a family of Muslim immigrants in Sweden. She had somehow managed to find a Swedish boyfriend. For this her father murdered her. The boyfriend as well died under mysterious circumstances. Sahjda Bibi, of Birmingham, England was in her wedding dress when a cousin stabbed her 22 times for dishonouring the family for marrying a divorced man.

Heshu Yones was a 16-year-old girl in London. She had fallen in love with a Lebanese boy who was a Christian while her family was Muslim. Her father stabbed her to death and then slit her throat. Bruce Bawer, in his book While Europe Slept, writes: “in 2004, Britain’s public prosecutor began investigating no fewer than 117 suspicious deaths or disappearances to determine if honour killing had taken place. Over a six-month period in 2004-2005, eleven women were victims of honour killings in The Hague alone.”

Bawer writes of Pela Atroshi who emigrated to Sweden from Iraq with her family. She was fifteen at the time. Bawer says, “she learned Swedish, was a good student, and made non-Muslim friends. This infuriated her father, who accused her of ‘living a European life.’” When she was 19 she did not return home one evening. The men of the family insisted she be put to death. She fled for safety.

But her family assured her that all had been forgiven. They told her that they had arranged a husband for her. And they plan was for her to fly to Iraq to marry this man she had never met. After their marriage she and new new husband would fly to Sweden where he would not become a citizen and start the process of bringing his family over. She agreed.

With her father she flew to Iran. Her father and an uncle then murdered her. The Iranian court found the men guilty and gave them a sentence of probation for five months because the killing had been “honourable”.

A twelve-year-old girl, a citizen of Sweden, was with her mother and brother in Northern Iraq and walking back home after shopping. A neighbour boy gave her a ride in his car. Sixty members of the family gathered to decide her fate. The family was split on how to punish her. As Bawer writes: “One day in May 2001 the girl, now thirteen, walked out of her family home to find three of her uncles and four of her cousins waiting. They pumped eighty-six bullets into the girl’s body. (Like her, two of the uncles were Swedish citizens.)”

Why is it that so many prominent critics of the virulent authoritarianism are women? I would think the answer is obvious.

The great classical liberal Ludwig von Mises looked at how women are treated under differing philosophies of life. He said: “Unlimited rule of the male characterises family relations where the principle of violence dominates.”

He describes this culture: “The man seizes possession of the women and holds this sexual object in the same sense in which he has other goods of the outer world. Here women becomes completely a thing. She is stolen and bought; she is given away; sold away, ordered away; in short, she is like a slave in the house.” He says: The principle of violence recognises only the male. He alone possesses power, hence he alone has rights. Woman is merely a sexual object. No woman is without a lord, be it father or guardian, husband or employer.”

It is suprising how Mises, in 1922, wrote something based on world history which so clearly shows the condition of women in Muslim nations. “Where the principle of violence dominates, polygamy is universal. Each man has as many wives as he can defend. Wives are a form of property, of which it is always better to have more than few. A man endeavours to own more wives, just as he endeavours to own more slaves or cows; his moral attitude is the same, in fact, for slaves, cows and wives. He demands fidelity from his wife; he along may dispose of her labour and her body, himself remaining free of any ties whatever.”

Long before the advent of women’s liberation in the 1960s and 1970s Mises had noted: “So far as Feminism seeks to adjust the legal position of woman to that of man, so far as it seeks to offer her legal and economic freedom to develop and act in accordance with her inclinations, desires, and economic circumstances—so far it is nothing more than a branch of the great liberal movement which advocates peaceful and free evolution.”

Here we see the clear conflict between fundamentalism and liberalism. Fundamentalism is a religious viewpoint based on what Mises called “the principle of violence.”

Liberalism acts with certain principles at it’s core. It says that all individuals ought to have an equality of rights. Here it differs from socialism. For the socialist believes in equality of results and for that to happen, in a world of unequal talents, equality of rights must be abolished. But equally liberalism is in conflict with the fundamentalist view of women. Women too are humans and worthy of the same rights as men. The liberal would note that homosexuals too are human and thus worthy of the same rights of others. And again fundamentalism treats homosexuals with the same contempt it has for women.

Fundamentalism can not tolerate a world based on a liberal view of rights. It demands inequality and it does so violently.

Now socialists speak of an equality for women and homosexuals. But when faced with Islamic fundamentalism they back down and preach some unclear doctrine of “multiculturalism.” The socialist has preached that nations ruled by fundamentalist religions are poor, not because of the values they hold, but because of the machinations of international capital.

Socialism never stopped seeking victims and trying to damn liberalism, or anything approaching it, for the conditions these people endure. Nor can the socialist avoid attacking the West and his own culture. To build his utopian world he must tear down the one in which he currently resides. So he is ever on the attack finding nothing of value in the West.

That the Islamists have also condemned the West indicates to the Socialist that they are allies in a common cause. So Socialists the world over have embraced the Islamist cause. But to do so they must turn a blind eye to the treatment of women and homosexuals. They make excuses for it or pretend they can not see it. They openly embrace a double standard. They demand legislation to mandate “comparable wages” to benefit Western women. But they ignore the murder of Islamic women even when those women are murdered in Western nations.

Worse yet, when someone with courage speaks out against this oppression of women the Left savages the critic for being a “bigot” and for “promoting prejudice”.

But go back to what Mises said about a society based on the principle of violence. Socialism is inherently a philosophy of violence. It uses state power to achieve all it’s goals. Civil society is decimated by the socialist as more and more power is transferred to the state. And state power is always and everywhere the principle of violence at work. While most socialists are secularists and the Islamic fundamentalist is a fanatical religionist the two movement share the “principle of violence”.

I doubt that they recognise this. But this fact helps explain their ability to work together. They share a common ground. But socialists have always been naive about the nature of reality. The communists, with whom they previously allied themselves, made socialists the first victims of the purges they instituted in those sad nations brought under Marxist control.

And come the establishment of Sharia republics in the West the Islamist will just as quickly engage in jihad against his former friends as against his sworn enemies. Once again the socialist will be lined up against the wall and executed and once again he will be baffled as to the reason why.

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