The silence of the Democrats and Progressives on the barbaric aspects of such interpretations of Islam is simply deafening. The reason is twofold; firstly, the concept of cultural relativism that invaded our universities in the seventies and premises the idea that all cultures are equal and secondly, the pathological fear of being called Islamophobic if they dare to approach the subject. This dual problem has created a severe tension among feminists.”
– Monique Thurston
by Monique Thurston
In an interview with WCAX, former Vermont Democrat governor Madeline Kunin expressed her concerns about the fate of women under Taliban rule in Afghanistan. She said: “I just hope that the United States can get everybody out who needs to get out and that women will not have to go back and be a prisoner in their home.”
This is good, but is it enough?
The population of Afghanistan is about 38 million people. Assuming that half of them are women and that no women wants to face the horror of stoning, beating, sexual abuse including forced child marriage, that would be about 19 million refugees.
Of course, Governor Kunin knows that all women will not escape Afghanistan, just a few lucky ones will. I applaud the governor’s concern for the plight of women – but the left, Progressives and Democrats, must do better than that.
The abuse of women in Afghanistan is a direct result of the Taliban’s harsh interpretation of Sharia, the Islamic Law that governs the daily lives of Muslims in the world. Sadly, this brutal interpretation of Sharia is not unique to Afghanistan. Saudi Arabia, Iran, Brunei, Indonesia, Sudan, Pakistan, Nigeria, Qatar, and Somalia all share some aspects of a harsh interpretation of Islamic law.
In an interview given to USA Today, Professor Akbar Ahmed, Chair of Islamic Studies at American University, says “Sharia law has in the context of contemporary culture become very controversial and distorted in its understanding.” He also says that Sharia is defined very clearly by the Quran but, “Interpretation of the text by the scholars, governments and cultures have drastically differed…and that all these differences are adjusted in the context of cultures.”
When the war in Afghanistan started after 9/11 new coverage included images of women covered from head to toe in burkas. We saw the male police of “Vice and Virtue“ patrolling Kabul with sticks, beating women viciously if their ankles should show underneath the burka. In a soccer stadium we saw a woman being dragged out of the back of a pickup truck to be executed by goons after a Sharia court comprised exclusively of men decided her fate. Forced to kneel down, a bullet in the head, she fell like a rag doll under her suffocating garb.
Then as today the silence of the Democrats and Progressives on the barbaric aspects of such interpretations of Islam is simply deafening. The reason is twofold, First, the concept of cultural relativism that invaded our universities in the seventies and premises the idea that all cultures are equal and second, the pathological fear of being called Islamophobic if they dare to approach the subject. This dual problem has created a severe tension among feminists.
No, all cultures are not equal. Those who promote the persecution of women and gays are not equivalent to those who do not. The cultural based interpretations of Sharia allow the most brutal treatment of women and gay people in the world. All women concerned about women in the world should listen to the courageous feminists who see women’s condition with both clarity and boldness as it refers to Islam.
Ayaan Hirsi Ali, a feminist and Somali immigrant who suffered genital mutilation as a young girl is an outspoken critic of Islam. She has this to say on her website, “To those who consider Western Civilization as evil she warned about much more concerning alternatives: Islamism, Socialism, Authoritarianism and Tribalism.
About Islamism, she says: “The Iranian regime has implemented it. Boko Haram is seeking to implement it in parts of Nigeria, and it may soon return in Afghanistan. In none of these cases has it benefited human development particularly for women and sexual minorities.”
Ayaan Hirsi Ali was rejected as a commencement speaker by Brandeis University in 2014. Brandeis administrators eliminated free speech on a subject they dared not to be discussed under pressure of students.
Ayaan’s speech was published by the Wall Street Journal. She began, ”I stand before you as someone who is fighting for women’s and girls’ basic rights globally. And I stand before you as someone who is not afraid to ask difficult questions about the role of religion in that fight. The connection between violence, particularly violence against women, and Islam is too clear to be ignored …We do no favors to students …when we shut our eyes to this link, when we excuse rather than reflect.”
In an article written in 2018 in the online news magazine UnHerd, (https://unherd.com) Julie Bindell, a British feminist, wrote: ”As a lifelong feminist, and firmly on the political Left, …I campaign against sexual and domestic violence alongside secularist feminists, many of whom have fled to the UK from countries such as Iran, Afghanistan and Pakistan. They are furious with those white liberals who are more afraid of being labelled ‘Islamophobic’ than of giving more power to conservative Muslim men who seek to impose Islamic law on women and girls.”
That is a courageous woman!
It is time for the American Left to broaden the scope of their activism beyond the sole concept of oppression of white male patriarchy and enrich their message by including the brutally oppressive Islamic patriarchy which is ruling millions of women in so many parts of the world and at the same time act as safeguard for immigrant women in the West.
The author is a retired radiologist and Addison County resident who has traveled extensively in the Muslim world. She did her pediatric rotation in Beni Messous Hospital in Algeria in 1972, crossed Iran from north to south by bus, traveled three summers in a row in Turkey by bus, crossed the entire Indian continent, reaching first Sri Lanka and then Nepal. She also crossed Morocco by car from Tangiers, to the desert towns of Ouarzazate, and visited Bedouin villages in the then-Spanish Sahara province.