Tuesday, April 12, 2011
Dear Brother Leader and Sister Burqa
Some news items are difficult to write about. and some not. Libyan citizens (apart from Gaddafi’s own tribe) have generally been oppressed for forty years with secret police instigated disappearances, torture and an absence of the freedoms they would like to take for granted. The African emissaries did themselves much harm in toadying up to the dictator and offering a ceasefire that would consolidate his military hold on Libya. To insinuate that he was in a club of like-minded African Heads of State did little to make the continent feel good about itself. But then it has been Gadaffi’s oil money that has underpinned many an African dictator’s hold on power. The Dear Brothers’ League of nations will continue to turn a blind eye to ordinary people’s suffering.
Some two thousand women in France consider themselves to be suffering. They must divest themselves of their facial encumbrances if they want to go shopping. They claim it is an attack on their civil rights. Probably. They claim it is an attack on Islam. Not. There is nothing in the Koran which preaches such extremes. The nearest the Prophet came to limiting a woman’s attire was when he asked that she retained a degree of modesty.
All religions appear to have a problem with sexuality – usually a woman’s. Since the Romans, according to Foucault, first began to institute laws to limit women’s freedoms in order to guarantee men’s progeny their right to property, women have been receiving a raw deal. Most religions limit their powers to lead in their organisations. Many still enshrine in ecclesiastical law, constraints on their sexual rights. The burqa is the symbol of a property being owned by a man. Imagine, in an Alice in Wonderland world if, in a religion, a wife must wear a burqa in the home but not in a public place. How long would the religion demanding it, last?
In Lysistrata the play, women stop war by withholding conjugal rights. Zuma and company should be brought to heel by their African women for their patriarchal despotism. Meanwhile, the French two thousand would do well to read the Quran and question what their husbands are demanding of them.