Mar 202013
 

reflector

Letter

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

I was troubled by the article and comments in the March 8 Reflector article describing an ECU sponsored lecture on women in the Muslim world given by Asra Nomani, a practicing Muslim woman. She decries women’s inability to walk freely in Muslim countries without a male chaperone and correctly asserts that these rules were, of course, crafted by men. She described leading a prayer session without a head covering and being accused of creating “10,000 more Osama bin Ladens.”

ECU graduate student Mohammed Abdo (a member of the Muslim Student Association) responded that a woman leading prayers would be a distraction to the men, and that covering her hair would help men avoid temptation (“hair is a very sexual thing on women,” he added). It’s a wonder we men don’t drive our cars into ditches considering all the female drivers with uncovered hair.

Another article, appearing less than a week later, described Iranian leader Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s “sinful” act of embracing Hugo Chavez’s mother at the late Venezuelan leader’s funeral. Ahmadinejad was scolded by Iranian clerics for this transgression, which apparently undermined the dignity of his nation (quite ironic considering his past actions).

Many religious practices related to women serve to protect male dominance and maintain female subservience (extreme examples include clitoridectomy and infibulation). Women even suspected of impropriety may face isolation, beatings, summary divorce or murder. Is the issue men’s need to ensure women’s piety, or men’s desire to maintain power and control?

Practices and prohibitions that date from antiquity need to be re-evaluated by the societal norms of the present if they infringe on basic human rights. It is unacceptable to apply millennia-old gender biased rules to subjugate some, elevate others and justify inequality. To do so detracts from the divine presence within us all.

MICHAEL BARONDES

Greenville

via The Daily Reflector.

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