Of course, not all of Hirsi Ali’s critics are PC. I have criticized her myself for what she has said about Catholicism. I have seen others misread her statements and run with the misreading, even to the point of claiming, despite the howling absurdity of this, that she is fine with Sharia if it is instituted peacefully. And in “For the Love of God,” David Thompson ably highlights the hypocrisy of some of her other critics:
Christopher Hitchens is on fine form in Slate magazine, on Ayaan Hirsi Ali and the moral contortions of her PC critics:
“Accompanying the article is a typically superficial Newsweek Q&A sidebar, which is almost unbelievably headed: A Bombthrower’s Life. The subject of this absurd headline is a woman who has been threatened with horrific violence, by Muslims varying from moderate to extreme, ever since she was a little girl. She has more recently had to see a Dutch friend butchered in the street, been told that she is next, and now has to live with bodyguards in Washington, D.C. She has never used or advocated violence. Yet to whom does Newsweek refer as the “Bombthrower”? It’s always the same with these bogus equivalences: They start by pretending loftily to find no difference between aggressor and victim, and they end up by saying that it’s the victim of violence who is ‘really’ inciting it…”
The Hitchens piece prompted me to unearth this article, written for 3:AM, about Laila Lalami’s criticism of Ayaan Hirsi Ali. Readers may spot similar patterns of rhetorical evasion.
“In an attempt to rebut Hirsi Ali’s contention, Lalami wields a list of Muslim figures who dare to question orthodoxy. Oddly, she omits any mention of how most of those she names have faced censure, persecution or serious threats of violence for demonstrating their capacity for critical thought.”
Laila Lalami’s Nation article addresses non-Islamic views of female roles within the Muslim world, and the phenomenon she describes as “the burden of pity.” Central to her argument is an attack on Ayaan Hirsi Ali and Irshad Manji, whose scholarship and rigour are called into question, along with several sins of omission. The details of this criticism can be read in full via the link above, and some valid secondary points are made. However, Lalami’s own essential argument is far more tendentious and evasive than those she critiques. Lalami argues that Muslim women are unfairly singled out as objects of sympathy and sadness. She writes, “Christian and Jewish women living in similarly constricting fundamentalist settings never seem to attract the same concern. The veil, illiteracy, domestic violence, gender apartheid and genital mutilation have become so many hot-button issues that symbolize our status as second-class citizens in our societies.” In doing so, Lalami rather refutes her own assertion. To the best of my knowledge, relatively few Christian or Jewish women face enforced shrouding, physical abuse, death threats or honour killings as a matter of piety or routine.
Perhaps Lalami can provide a list of priests and prominent rabbis who advocate the beating of women and publish books on how to go about it. As when Mohammed Kamal Mostafa, a “respected” imam from Andalusia, published The Islamic Woman, a helpful guide advising Muslim men on how to beat “rebellious” women without leaving visible signs of injury, in accord with Muhammad’s teachings. Mostafa’s advice included how to avoid incriminating bruises and scar tissue, and how to “inflict blows that are not too strong nor too hard, because the aim is to make them suffer psychologically and not to humiliate them or mistreat them physically.” Jailed in November 2004, Mostafa’s sentence was reduced from 12 months to 20 days and the imam was ordered to complete a training course in basic human rights.
As is often pointed out, the Qur’an is not unique in its misogynistic content and the Old Testament has plenty of disagreeable exhortations — for instance, the stoning of women who turn their husbands away from God (Deuteronomy 13:7). However, the Qur’an is unique in the extent to which it is still taken literally and regarded as immutable. I”m not aware of great swathes of 21st century Christians taking the above injunction seriously and enacting it, or demanding that verses from Deuteronomy be enforced by law so that others do the same. But the Islamic sanction of misogyny is still all too widely enacted as a measure of religious observance.
Muhammad’s sanctioning of wife-beating (Qur’an 4:34, Abu Dawood 11:2142, etc) is still being advanced as valid legal principle by Muslim spokesmen in Spain, Turkey, Holland, Saudi Arabia and Pakistan. Interviewed by Saudi Arabia’s IQRA TV in March 2005, Sheik Muhammed Al-Manujid referred to the precedent set by Muhammad and insisted: “God is aware of men’s needs”¦ a wife needs to comply with her husband’s desires in bed. Wives in the West are not obliged to do so”¦ They claim that if he has sex with her against her will, this is rape! They claim she must be willing!” Such claims of theological legitimacy will, unsurprisingly, help foster an atmosphere of intimidation, coercion and familial abuse.
Read it all.