Video: Mona Eltahawy Head to Head with Mehdi Hasan

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Mona Eltahawy Head to Head with Mehdi Hasan on Al Jazeera English:

Mona Eltahawy showed herself to be the provocateur she wants to be as a feminist Muslim. As she says, is it empowering for women to sit in an Arabic parliament when they consider female genital mutilation “the beautification of women”? They are supporting the misogynistic patriarchy which has allowed them to be so “empowered.”

Her call for the Arab Spring to lead to a sexual and psychological revolution was well articulated.

Over 90% of women in Egypt are assaulted by female genital mutilation (graph below):

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Indeed Egypt is considered one of the worst countries in the Arab world for women:

A UN report in April said 99.3% of women and girls in Egypt had been subjected to sexual harassment.

“The social acceptability of everyday sexual harassment affects every woman in Egypt regardless of age, professional or socio-economic background, marriage status, dress or behaviour,” said Noora Flinkman of Egyptian campaign group HarassMap.

Meanwhile, the survey said Iraq was now more dangerous for women than under Saddam Hussein, with women disproportionately affected by the violence of the past decade.

Saudi Arabia ranked poorly on women’s involvement in politics, workplace discrimination, freedom of movement and property rights.

But the conservative country scored better than many other Arab states when it came to access to education and healthcare, reproductive rights and gender violence. [BBC]

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Mona Eltahawy’s article “Why Do They Hate Us” raised these issues and harrowingly she had her own experience of sexual assault and violence to draw on. From a position of privilege she mentions her ability to raise these issues to a global audience as a writer.

In her article, she mentions on FGM:

I could find you a host of crackpots sounding off on Woman the Insatiable Temptress, but I’m staying mainstream with Qaradawi, who commands a huge audience on and off the satellite channels. Although he says female genital mutilation (which he calls “circumcision,” a common euphemism that tries to put the practice on a par with male circumcision) is not “obligatory,” you will also find this priceless observation in one of his books: “I personally support this under the current circumstances in the modern world. Anyone who thinks that circumcision is the best way to protect his daughters should do it,” he wrote, adding, “The moderate opinion is in favor of practicing circumcision to reduce temptation.” So even among “moderates,” girls’ genitals are cut to ensure their desire is nipped in the bud — pun fully intended. Qaradawi has since issued a fatwa against female genital mutilation, but it comes as no surprise that when Egypt banned the practice in 2008, some Muslim Brotherhood legislators opposed the law. And some still do — including a prominent female parliamentarian, Azza al-Garf.

In the head to head with Mehdi Hasan she challenges cultural relativism and the false feminism which promotes a woman being less human compared to a man. My own position on the niqab does give me pause listening to how she frames the argument regarding an outright ban. I cannot disagree with how she defines the niqab, as changing the dynamic in communication and representing a misogynistic view of women.

Her interview is worth an hour of your time. It also gives me an answer to this tweet which I took umbrage at:

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Well “GodlessVagina”, there are Muslim feminists I have met who are protecting human rights that I have befriended. I would be honoured to include Mona Eltahawy among that number.

Article written by John Sargeant on Homo economicus’ Weblog

Follow @JPSargeant78

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10 Comments

Filed under Religion, secular, World

10 responses to “Video: Mona Eltahawy Head to Head with Mehdi Hasan

  1. Is there actually any scientific evidence that ALL FORMS of “fgm” are worse than male circumcision? I still don’t understand what makes “fgm” by default worse than cutting of the foreskin.

    Thanks

  2. Taj Hargey is a “Quranist”. I don’t see anything particularly progressive about their views, infact they’re pretty backward and uninformed. He says that muslims should reject the niqab because it’s “pre-islamic”. He’s just repeating the same logic as the wahhabi/salafis and other Islamic puritans. The only difference is that he rejects all hadeeth literature and bases his standpoint on some kind of ahistorical, essentialist, liberal reading of the Qur’an.

    • Considering he called the niqab not a veil but a face mask, slightly more to him than you might suppose when calling him a “Quranist” – though I get your point about ahistorical reading generally.

      I would argue most religions do that when interpreting – have argued on blog against being tied to ancient texts with outmoded attitudes. Some religious humanists agree. A liberal reading cherry picking is preferable to a Taliban etc view.

  3. Considering he called the niqab not a veil but a face mask, slightly more to him than you might suppose when calling him a “Quranist” – though I get your point about ahistorical reading generally.

    “Quranist” isn’t a slur. They call themselves that. My point was that he rejects the niqab on the basis that it’s “pre-Islamic”. That’s not progressive. That’s extremely conservative, backward and ahistorical. Pre-Islamic religion, culture and philosophy has had a huge influence on Islamic jurisprudence, theology and mysticism. If Dr Hargey really wanted to be progressive he’d emphasize that hybridity rather than trying to erect false barriers that actually conform to the Wahhabi school. Mona’s objection to the niqab was totally different and can be called progressive even if you don’t agree with it.

    I would argue most religions do that when interpreting – have argued on blog against being tied to ancient texts with outmoded attitudes. Some religious humanists agree. A liberal reading cherry picking is preferable to a Taliban etc view.

    Traditionalist/Fundementalist muslims privilege certain texts over others when formulating jurisprudence and theology anyway. The Hanafi school of law that the Taliban claim to follow has been historically very flexible and a lot of their more conservative edicts are based on this use of independent judgement (ijtihad) rather than textual literalism. So from a historical POV “cherrypicking”, hermeneutics, or whatever you want to call it isn’t problematic.

    What is problematic in the case of Hargey, is the anti-discursive and historically ignorant views he presents.

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