Wednesday, June 11, 2008

On Angry Arabs, virgins, and shoes, cont.

I sent As'ad my previous post and he responded (he didn't want me to publish his response). And I responded with this:

Okay, so say in your post that you think there are more important issues to Arab women. But you seem to imply in the post that the Times is making this up. And of course, which issue is the most to Arab women depends on the woman. If it is a woman whose lack of virginity is going to get her killed, that issue is probably the most important to her. And also, this article focuses on European-Arab women, for whom poverty (and war) may not be as important an issue. I didn't know it was on the front page on the Times, I only read it online. If a precondition for a woman to get married and have a family and be supported and be a respected part of her community is to have an operation, then this is a very important issue for women. And it is noteworthy also that European-born Muslim women still have not escaped this control of their sexuality and their body. It may be true that the media ignores issues of poverty and war that are caused by the West in favor of these types of issues, however, it is still wrong to dismiss the issue out of hand as you did, especially for someone calling himself a feminist. I know it is easy to get angry at the constant negative portrayal of Arabs and Muslims, and I do myself. But we cannot say that we must deal with issues of war, poverty, etc. before we deal with issues that are exclusive to women. Also, the article tries not to pin the blame on Muslim men, quoting this member of an Islamic center: “The man is the biggest of all the donkeys,” said Abdelkibir Errami, the center’s vice president. “Even if the woman was no longer a virgin, he had no right to expose her honor. This is not what Islam teaches. It teaches forgiveness.”

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