Making something sacred demeans it
Thankfully the teddy bears picnic has been called off. Gillian Gibbons has been released (see previous blog here).
However there are many other issues. Hitchens commented that religion poisons everything – and at AAI he remarked how people seem to question “What everything – chess?” which got a laugh. Yet I remember John Simpson remarking that the Taliban had restrictions on, among other things, on chess sets as they viewed chess men as images and therefore idolatry. He packed a chess set and a bottle of Whiskey for traveling into Afghanistan because he hated being told what to do.
When laws, customs and ideas become sacred it is very difficult to argue against them – at least from the point of view of those that think it is so sanctified. For example say that a woman being in a car with someone not their husband or related. Now you could imagine that such a law was designed to protect the reputation of a single woman from condemnation by a sexually repressive society. That law could equally come about because of a fear that women are a sexual temptress that men must be protected against. Whatever the reason the point is the law is now considered sacred, inviolate, and the punishment must be followed.
Thus has a lady found herself in khalwa – the term for this situation in a car with a man unrelated to her. She was also the victim of gang rape. She was sentenced to 90 lashes but on talking to the media this has been extended to 200 lashes and jail.
Thus a 19 year old woman from Saudi Arabia is thus a victim not only of a law that says you cannot be alone with an unrelated man but also of being in the wrong place at the wrong time when a gang of seven men raped her fourteen times and her former boyfriend she was talking to.
This idea seems something that all feminists, let alone those that care about the equality of people, should be up in arms about. If it is just about ideas then maybe we can see the need to challenge:
Under law in Saudi Arabia, women are subject to numerous restrictions, including a strict dress code, a prohibition against driving and a requirement that they get a man’s permission to travel or have surgery. Women are also not allowed to testify in court unless it is about a private matter that was not observed by a man, and they are not allowed to vote. CNN
This beggars belief. Here is a victim, not a criminal. Yet despite her ordeal she is having insult added to injury. This is something that she is being a victim to because she questions the courts initial decision. Rightly is the world condemning this court judgement.
And those that will have us believe that these things are separate from Islam have a little more explaining to do. It is in part not just law that enforces this but a view of women sanctified by holy writ, made sacred by divine law though subject to human interpretation. A culture that should not be unquestioned, and no one should be punished for questioning anything, let alone an unjust judgment by a court that does not deserve being a part of a justice system.