Saturday, January 10, 2004

Religion, sex and the Middle East

When I first heard about the idea of prohibiting (al-hijab) in public French school, I thought that I should write about it as I felt there was something wrong and strange about it. After a while I deferred the idea and said to myself that it is an internal French affair that concerns only the French people and I didn’t want to get in the middle of an intricate and sensitive matter such as religion. Still I couldn’t keep myself from wondering what is the motive of the French government and what effect such decision may have outside the French border and mainly in the Islamic world, will it affect the struggle against terrorism and religious fanaticism and if so, in what way, for how long and to what extent?
Then I received some e-mails asking for my opinion on this matter and encouraging me to write about it. One of those was sent by an American Muslim soldier (and a blogger) serving in Iraq .He was telling me how upset he was with the new proposed French law and explaining by the way how –being a Muslim- he was not only accepted by his fellow soldiers, but he was also respected a great deal. I started to look for the reaction of Iraqis and the echo of this proposed law in Arabic and Muslim media, and I found what convinced me to write about it.

I know that this will certainly give me a headache, the least to say. Some people will say that this has absolutely nothing to do with Iraq, which seems so obvious, but I’m still on the opinion that any change in the policy-whether internal or international- of a strong country such as France, and especially when it comes to sensitive issues such as religion, will definitely sooner or later have a strong effect every where in the world. And even if it is not, then I’m still concerned about it as a human being, and I think we all should be, without interfering in other countries internal affairs (if there is such a thing in today’s world) but at least we can learn a lesson through questioning it, seeking the motives and predicting the consequences and wait and see how correct our judgment was.

Although it’s not important, but I like to tell you that I’ve always stood against the Hijab and I find it a completely strange phenomena inserted into Islamic culture when Muslims came into contact with other civilizations, so it’s a tradition and not a religious duty and often a harmful one and unfair to women restricting their freedom and making them look inferior to men, and I will always stand against it unless the woman who wears it do so on her own will, then it would be unfair on my side to force her not to do so. This is not only my opinion; hundreds of Muslim writers and thinkers long ago stated this fact, and many of them even relied on the Qura’an and Muslim history itself to prove that this was a tradition that was given the power of a wholly order to maintain the domination of men over women in a strictly fatherly society

Before going further, I would like to state that I’m speaking here not as a Muslim, but as a man who cares about the future (OUR future) which seems to be-in this critical period-depending on the way the west, and its allies everywhere, will deal with the obvious and growing threat of the evil combination of dictatorship (with the probability of them processing WMDs) and extremist Muslims. The fact that most of the threats and instability in the word comes from Islamic groups (a by-product of dictatorship in the Muslim world) supported most of the time by Arab governments and their media, is a certain one and should be dealt with seriously, firmly yet in a rational manner, making sure that war on radical Islamists is not misinterpreted as war on Islam on the part of common Muslims.

In my opinion, the Islamists in question represent far less than 1% of Muslims, but they are using every possible mean to attract the largest possible number of the frustrated and perplexed average Muslims -who are generally very emotional when it comes to their religious beliefs- to their death net, never missing a single insignificant slip on the part of the western governments to make a fuss about it and start again telling their boring (yet very effective) myth about the historical Zionist-imperialist conspiracy against Islam starting from the crusades!! And in the presence of terrible dictatorships that drive the average Muslims to the edge of despair, trying to find a reasonable explanation to their misery, the paranoid delusion grows stronger day by day, with the Arab media and the local mullahs making sure this frustration and rage aims to the (right direction) that’s to say as far as possible away from their masters.
It’s an inclusive and undeclared agreement between totalitarian regimes and its (on- loose byproduct; the extremism). When these two are joined in one land they end in a bloody war, but when acting on different scenes they become strong allies without even sharing a common goal, each doing his part of a silent deal that gives each one of them what he wants from the other without getting closer than necessary. This may explain to some people how the coalition didn’t lie when they said that Saddam was supporting terrorism.
This threat calls on the part of the good and enlightened Muslims and the western governments and societies to be very careful when dealing with the manifestations related to Islam, addressing most of the time the hearts of the average Muslims more than their minds as (man) will never change his mind unless his emotions change first (It’s not me who said this it’s Dostoevsky).

It’s strange to see that the most affected countries by terrorism such as Israel and the USA have never restrained the religious activities of their Muslim citizens.
Again I must stress that I’m not defending the Hijab, but I’m criticizing the way of the French and German governments in trying to minimize the religious discrimination and sensitivity among their citizens; a very noble task if that what was meant by it, but in the wrong way and at the wrong time as I see it. You may think that I’m exaggerating here, but if you’ve heard and seen what I’ve head and seen you might agree with me.
A friend and a fine reader once commented on this blog that I should keep away from religion, sex and the Middle East. A very good and sincere advice. Unfortunately, I can't stick to this rule as live in a Muslim community in the Middle East, so I can write about various subjects but I can’t stay always from such prickly roads. I’ll be waiting for your opinions whether to go on with such subjects or just shut up, and I think I’ll shut up, at least for now.


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