Friday, February 25, 2005

The Mullah and his Daughter

A joke from Khaled Hosseini's fine novel "The Kite Runner":

"Did you hear what Mullah Nasruddin did when his daughter came home and
complained that her husband had beaten her?"

"What?"

"He beat her too, then sent her back to tell the husband that Mullah was no
fool: If the bastard was going to beat his daughter, then Mullah would
beat his wife in return."

The battle over how Sharia is to be applied to women in Iraq is beginning. And it's not culturally insensitive to say that the treatment of women in many Muslim countries that practice traditional Sharia is horrific, from honor killings, to burqas, female circumcisions, no-rights divorce, and sanctioned beatings. Inspired by the Koran or not, extremists in these tribal societies are locked in an obsession with subjugating women to maintain their own "honor."

From a newly liberated Iraqi woman:
"They said what I am wearing is devil clothes," she says of the time she was
recently turned away from the main mosque in Baghdad's Shiite Kadhimiya
neighborhood. She pulls incredulously at the shapeless black robe that got her
banned because openings between the fasteners revealed flashes of the long
formless dress underneath."

This is the canary in the coal mine. It's the treatment of women that will decide if Iraq succeeds, and if the Middle East can throw off its barbarity.