Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Pot, meet kettle

You probably remember before and after the invasion of Afghanistan, one of the justifications for the invasion was the way the Islamic extremists who ran the place oppressed women. The claim was made that they prevented girls and women from engaging in community life, kept them from education, and generally oppressed them.

I basically agreed with all of these claims. It happens that these same claims apply equally to Saudi Arabia (our friends, remember?) and probably a lot of other Arab or Muslim countries. Is the subjugation of women inherent in Islam? I haven't studied Islam systematically enough to say so for sure, but there seems to be a tremendous overlap between Islamic rule and oppression of women. I don't know if it's religious or cultural, but it seems to be a genuine phenomenon.

Good thing we have one shining beacon in the Middle East, one country we can count on to uphold the liberal Western values of sexual equality, freedom, and respect for the individual that we value so highly in the United States. Yes, our friend and client, Israel.

It's just that there may be just a tiny problem there, too. This story from NPR details what Israel's homegrown Committees for the Protection of Virtue and Prevention of Vice are doing to women there. Literally forcing them to ride on the back of the bus and beating them if they don't, hounding them from the streets when they dare to go out in public, and decreeing that they should not be educated beyond high school.

So where is the beacon over there?

And should I rethink my earlier statement? Is there any religion that does not stand for the subjugation of women?

Just wondering.

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