This reflects the core Islamic assumption that male self-control is the female’s responsibility. She has to cover up, and if she doesn’t and gets attacked, that’s her own fault. “FEATURE-Preacher alarms many in Egypt with calls for Islamist vice police,” by Yasmine Saleh and Shaimaa Fayed for Reuters, January 9 (thanks to Block Ness):
Jan 9 (Reuters) – Many Egyptian viewers were horrified when preacher Hisham el-Ashry recently popped up on primetime television to say women must cover up for their own protection and advocated the introduction of religious police.
That an obscure preacher could get publicity for such views was seen as another example of the confused political scene in Egypt since the revolt that toppled Hosni Mubarak gave birth to a cacophony of feuding voices.
“I was once asked: If I came to power, would I let Christian women remain unveiled? And I said: If they want to get raped on the streets, then they can,” Ashry told Nahar TV last week.
Introducing a Saudi-style anti-vice police force to enforce Islamic law was “not a bad thing”, he said, and added: “In order for Egypt to become fully Islamic, alcohol must be banned and all women must be covered.”
Few take Ashry, who admits he flew to the United States dreaming of a Western lifestyle and romance but instead found truth in preaching, seriously. But his views have stirred emotions.
With the economic downturn and rising food prices putting pressure on the government, moderate Muslims, Christians and others worry their new-found political freedom is at risk of being exploited by hardline Islamists bent on imposing their values on a society that has been traditionally moderate….
Egypt’s Grand Mufti, the country’s most senior Islamic legal official, has dismissed the self-styled preacher’s views.
“This sort of idiotic thinking is one that seeks to further destabilise what is already a tense situation,” Grand Mufti Ali Gomaa said in a statement to Reuters.
“Egypt’s religious scholars have long guided the people to act in ways that conform to their religious commitments, but have never thought this required any type of invasive policing.”
The Muslim Brotherhood of President Mohamed Mursi, who was brought to power in an election last year, has also distanced itself, if somewhat cryptically.
“The case of promotion of virtue and prevention of vice is within the jurisdiction of the authorities and not individuals or groups,” said Brotherhood spokesman Mahmoud Ghozlan. “It is not anyone’s right to intervene.”
Mursi has pledged not to impose Islamic codes of behaviour and to protect adherents of all religions equally. But he has also enacted a new constitution that has more Islamic references than its predecessor and that critics say fails to protect freedoms and the rights of Christians and other minorities.
Activists say although Mursi’s camp is not keen on religious austerity, stronger condemnation is required at this sensitive time.
“As long as such actions are not seriously condemned by the officials in public speeches, it leaves room for radicals to freely act and impose things on people,” said human rights activist Gamal Eid….
“Islamist officials need to take a clearer stand on their views about rights and freedoms and act strictly if those rights and freedoms were threatened.”…
More re Ashry:
“He advocates what I believe is right,” said Ahmed Mahmoud, 18, in Cairo. “It is about time to enforce God’s law in order to be rescued from all the corruption we live in.”
Ashry is just one conservative influence among many. In the six months since Mursi came to power, preachers and vigilante groups have been flexing their muscles on the streets.
In July, a young man holding hands with his fiancÃ© was stabbed to death in Suez, and in October, a face-veiled teacher cut the hair of two 12-year-old girls who were not wearing scarves. Just last month, an Islamist group in Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula threatened to launch a campaign against cigarette smoking and drug use in the lawless desert region.
Radical Salafi figures called for Muslims not to greet Christians at Christmas, celebrated by Egypt’s Copts on Jan. 7. Christians make up about 10 percent of Egypt’s 84 million population, which is majority Sunni-Muslim….