Tuesday, July 05, 2005

Modern vs. Medieval

From the Arab News:

An associate professor of Imam Muhammad ibn Saud Islamic University in Riyadh has objected to the hiring of a Muslim woman as a pilot.

In a statement issued in response to a full-page advertisement by Prince Alwaleed ibn Talal, chairman of Kingdom Holding Co., congratulating Capt. Hanadi Zakariya Hindi for becoming the first Saudi woman to get a commercial pilot’s license, Sheikh Yousuf Al-Ahmad said the appointment was un-Islamic.

Al-Ahmad, who teaches Shariah law at the university, said the job would require her to travel without a male guardian and would therefore lead to her mixing with men.

Prince Alwaleed, who has employed Capt. Hindi to work for his company’s fleet of private jets, recently bought advertising space paying tributes to the first Saudi woman pilot in several local papers. The advertisements have elicited a negative response from religious conservatives.

In his statement, Al-Ahmad said the contract given to Capt. Hindi was unlawful as women should never be allowed to work as either pilots or airhostesses. For this reason, he said, even the advertisements were unlawful.

Several Internet sites operated by conservative Islamic groups have sharply criticized plans to let a woman pilot an aircraft. Al-Ahmad’s statement may thus have the tacit support of many.

Capt. Hindi, 24, obtained her commercial pilot’s license earlier this year. Her success led to a 10-year contract with the Kingdom Holding Company.

Last week a petition asking for an end to the ban on women driving in the Kingdom was submitted to the National Society for Human Rights. The signatories included 60 Saudi women.

A poll conducted recently in Riyadh, however, found that 88 percent of Saudi women refuse to drive cars. According to the women, driving is not a priority for a majority of Saudi women; most women believe the main women’s issues have to do with their right to work, marriage, divorce and domestic abuse.

In another poll, the chief researcher at the Academic Center for Women’s Studies said Saudi women who were in favor of women driving saw it as a requirement for modern life. (emphasis mine)

Two things that struck me about this article. The first is how the medieval theocrats are willing and able to use modern technology to forward their agenda. Of course, we knew this already from the ongoing attempts to obtain modern weapons of mass destruction with which they can carry out their Islamic conquests.

The second point also relates to the modern vs. medieval mindset and how when the two are stirred together the outcome is a particularly unappetizing blend of idiocy and sanctimony. Women in the magic kingdom are appropriately more concerned about the basics of elementary individual freedom--such as being able to work, marry and divorce; and not having to be subject to abuse by men--to be much concerned about the issue of driving.

In point of fact, obtaining "permission" to drive when they aren't able to live in any other way as free human beings is a perfect example of a Pyrrhic victory.

I look at my daughter and try to imagine what kind of life she would have under this oppression. It makes me shudder. A commenter here (a woman, I think) made following point:

What about women in the western world that are constantly conditioned to be sex objects? How are they effective role models for their children when, by and large, their depiction in mass media, focuses on their image and 'sexual' status/ability?
The cosmetics industry, one example, is geared to insinuate that a woman (their customer) needs 'improvement' in order to be attractive to the opposite sex. It's not as extreme as the Taliban or other suppressive political/religious movements but it's just as effective in cases where women have developed some form of obsessive compulsive disorder/disease that manifests itself as bulimia or anorexia nervosa.

I've seen comments like this several times, all saying basically the same thing. If anyone agrees with this comment, I urge them to feel free to go live under the Taliban somewhere and see how liberated from oppression they will be. I urge them to live in Saudi Arabia, where the police would rather allow young girls to perish in a fire, rather than to rescue them when they might not be fully covered and therefore "decent" according to the law of Islam.

To compare buying cosmetics (which is a CHOICE that women are free to make or not in the West) with the Taliban is and unbelievable distortion and can only come from someone who has been thoroughly brainwashed. You may not agree with being a "sexual object", but again, that is a CHOICE women make here in this part of the world. Sexuality is a healthy part of each individual and important in normal development.

I wouldn't trade the "sexualized" culture of the West for a culture that is uniformly hostile and predatory toward women under the guise of "protecting" them. It is that culture which is sexually obsessed--far more than any Western country. If the mere sight of a woman's body is so threatening to a man that it must be hidden so as not to inflame his passions--what does that say about the man? Check out this post from Dymphna at the Gates of Vienna (or here, also) If the mere thought of a woman driving a car or flying an airplane is so outrageous to Islamic consciousness, what does that say about the health of Islam? Some of the female apologizers for the oppression of women under Islam like to point out Western cultural flaws, but they never seem to be concerned the rampant coercion of women and fear of female sexuality in their own cultures.

I wish for for my daughter to have freedom and take whatever risks she desires in her life. You are suggesting that I lock her in a closet--or shapeless clothing that covers her face and dehumanizes her and obscures her individuality-- to protect her from the predators; but the predators in Islamic society are even more determined to destroy her if they can't mold her to their will.

Yes, there are perverts, predators, and rapists in the West. Psychopaths like that sadly exist in all societies. But under the medieval worldview of Islam, such psychopaths can legally act out their desire for power over women and brutally enforce the rules that humiliate and oppress them.

In modern Western culture such persons are generally considered criminals and are locked up.

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