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Name: Antony Loewenstein
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Wednesday, August 17, 2005

Empty words

"Iraqi women know that the enemy is not Islam. There is a strong antipathy to anyone trying to conscript women's issues to the racist "war on terror" targeted against the Muslim world. Most Iraqi women do not regard traditional society, exemplified by the neighbourhood and extended family, however restrictive at times, as the enemy. In fact, it has in practice been the protector of women and children, of their physical safety and welfare, despite lowest-common-denominator demands on dress and personal conduct. The enemy is the collapse of the state and civil society. And the culprit is the foreign military invasion and occupation."

Haifa Zangana, Iraqi-born novelist and former prisoner of Saddam's regime, Guardian, August 17

10 Comments:

Blogger Shabadoo said...

Just tell that to Hirsi Ali...I've heard of the Stockholm Syndrome, but this is ridiculous!

Wednesday, August 17, 2005 6:36:00 pm  
Blogger leftvegdrunk said...

Shab, I am certain that Haifa Zangana would be as critical of certain practices (that is, religious and cultural behaviours) that exist within the Muslim world as Ayaan Hirsi Ali is. I think that is why Zangana speaks here of the "lowest-common-denominator demands" made in some areas of women's lives.

No one would suggest that the most extreme practices should be allowed occur, wherever they emerge. What is being argued is that concern for women's rights should not be toted as a rationale for war, because for the most part (and in this case we speak of secular Iraq) women were not repressed under Islam.

Hirsi Ali's experiences in Somalia and Saudi Arabia are clearly much different to those of women in Iraq today.

And your reference to the Stockholm Sydnrome, while likely only a shit-stirring tactic, is offensive and ignorant. Pull your socks up, Shab.

Wednesday, August 17, 2005 7:25:00 pm  
Blogger Antony Loewenstein said...

We shouldn't expect any better from a man who paints Islam and Muslims with one foul brush.
He's a nuanced chap...

Wednesday, August 17, 2005 7:41:00 pm  
Blogger Shabadoo said...

Thanks, Dirt...yes, it would be really ironic if women did worse under the new Iraqi constitution than under the old regime. But then, Saddam's Iraq was a fairly secular, if brutally repressive place. I don't think women's rights were ever part of the three-pronged rationale for war, BUT I do think that any culture that keeps half its population sequestered and de facto the property of others is never going to succeed, and I make no apologies for saying that I think that modern Western culture is a million times more civilized on this score. Ladies like the one Ant quotes can do what they like but when they argue in favour of a system that would deny everyone else the choice to take it or leave it, then we have serious problems.

But in a weird sort of way -- stick with me here, I can't stay long so I'll make it quick -- isn't this constitutional debate further proof of the problem of contemporary Islam, i.e., that once let out of its box, eveyrone tries to out-fundamentist each other in a race back to 7th century Islam? I mean, it's like a different version of what happens in the West, where the intolerant try and use the tolerance of the dominant culture to bring it down.

Ant: In the words of Dean Martin, "Just tryin' to have a little fun folks, that's all!" Dr. Shab says: go pick up a little CD called "The Rat Pack: Live at the Sands", whip up a pitcher of martinis and a platter of vol-au-vents, and have a swinging evening with Ms. Poly. You could use it - you're taking things wa-a-a-ay too seriously these days.

Wednesday, August 17, 2005 8:23:00 pm  
Blogger Andjam said...

In 1990, Saddam amended the law to allow "honour killings" to happen without penalty, amongst other measures to curry favour with Islamists.

It's tempting to say "he's a secularist, and that guy's an Islamist", but it's not as simple as that.

Wednesday, August 17, 2005 11:58:00 pm  
Blogger leftvegdrunk said...

Fair point, andjam. How does that relate to Zangana's statememt?

Thursday, August 18, 2005 7:10:00 am  
Blogger Andjam said...

I felt Zangana was giving too rosy a picture of life under Saddam as being an equal-opportunity dictator.

Thursday, August 18, 2005 4:08:00 pm  
Blogger leftvegdrunk said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

Saturday, August 20, 2005 6:06:00 pm  
Blogger leftvegdrunk said...

Fair enough, andjam. Given that out of the pair of you only Zangana is a woman who has lived under the Iraqi regime I will place more weight on her argument.

Saturday, August 20, 2005 6:07:00 pm  
Blogger Andjam said...

There are plenty of Iraqi bloggers in favour of the US invasion of Iraq and don't blame everything that's going wrong there on the Yanks, DBO.

Saturday, August 20, 2005 11:56:00 pm  

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